The muse visits Tony DeSare these days with an urgency not only to write immediately while inspiration alights, but to share while the groove is as fresh as spontaneity itself.
That explains why he releases a new, home-recorded tune to his YouTube channel about every other week. He said he feels he would be something of a plodding, snail male waiting for a label to OK the next project.
Why the musical microwave hurry for a fast-rising star of tomorrow?
The same reason the New York resident sometimes tours for nearly two months straight while 18-month-old son Christopher and wife Daisy await his return home.
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“I’m still building an audience,” he said, speaking while driving to a Northeast concert recently.
That includes a stop March 19 for Columbus’ Cabaret at The Commons series. He and his jazz combo will perform original tunes, plus his creative interpretations of material from Prince, Carole King, Billy Joel, the Bee Gees, Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter and others.
He played keyboard pop before he discovered Sinatra at age 15 and sank his frenzied fingers into jazz and ragtime.
His smorgasbord set list is so mixed that his audiences in recent years have ranged from curious college students to reminiscing retirees. In an age where producers are sweetening off-key artist voices in the recording studio, DeSare offers his upfront, smooth vocals as a song’s stripped-down centerpiece.
“The one advantage that I have over some of the modern artists is that I have learned and honed my craft performing live,” he said. “That’s a hard-won skill for me that I’ve worked on for 20 years.”
And he knows how to amaze.
During a National Public Radio interview a few years ago with the now-late jazz great Marian McPartland, his sheer speed and energy on the keyboard left her breathless and amazed. She praised his “straightforward-yet-infectious delivery with a warm, clear mellifluous sound, with a lot of charm to match.”
Moreover, more than one reviewer has compared his singing to a young Sinatra — his favorite vocalist. DeSare will headline several orchestral concerts this year honoring the late performer’s 100th birthday.
“He was the king of interpreting pop music,” DeSare said. “And he definitely made songs his own. It’s very flattering to be compared to him.”
From Las Vegas to Carnegie Hall, the kid who grew up with a musical father — a man playing albums from the Beatles, Eagles, and other ’60s and ’70s mainstays — loves the process of reshaping big hits in a big way. The Bee Gees’ “How Deep is Your Love” is among his favorites in the cover category.
“Time is marching on,” he said of his renditions of pop songs roughly 40 years old. “People tell me they’re hearing the songs in a whole new way.”
When he records and videos sessions in his 1,000-suare-foot home studio, he and the band prefer to play and sing as one unit all at once rather than patchwork pieces together as producers require.
“It’s the way the recording business used to be with people like Sinatra and Nat King Cole and others — with no headphones,” he said. “I think in some way it’s becoming a lost art form.
“But keep in mind that a lot of artists today are more than singers. They’re dancers and everything else. It’s become a whole different gig, like pop performance art.”
DeSare remains in a different category, especially in cabaret dates with no dancers, flashing lights or overbearing technology.
“In these shows,” he said, “the more bells and whistles you have, the less intimacy you have.”
Tony DeSare’s muse will allow no such thing.
With apologies to Billy Joel, he will be a piano man with only a bass player and guitarist to sweeten his work for his cabaret concerts. And the Scrabble enthusiast will spell his career plans carefully, turning out new music as the urge hits him while he serves as his own producer, video editor, you name it.
“It doesn’t make much sense to pay someone else to do all that,” he said.
Who: New York singer and keyboard Tony DeSare and his combo, singing pop, rock and jazz tunes.
What: The Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s Cabaret at The Commons series in an intimate 400-seat setting.
When: 7:30 p.m. March 19.
Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus.
Tickets: $50 – VIP (includes backstage post-cabaret party); $30 – preferred; $15 – general admission.
DeSare’s work online: youtube.com and iTunes.
Information: 812-376-2638 or thecip.org.