As Seen in Wall Street Journal, Time Out NY, NY-1 TV and Elsewhere, Tony DeSare Does Remarkable Sonic Experimentation on New CD PiANO
(Published: October 31, 2013)
As Seen in Wall Street Journal, Time Out NY, NY-1 TV and Elsewhere, DeSare Does Remarkable Things on New CD: Creating the sounds of multiple instruments ‘on, in or under' his piano, recording them as the engineer, mastering his own record, and shooting, editing and starring in his own videos
WSJ: "He's brought all the generations of pop together on the same page" "Mr. DeSare's music has been driven by a determination to bring all the music he loves together: to get the kids who love Bon Jovi to dig Cole Porter and to get the older demographic that listens to Sinatra and Tony Bennett to appreciate Prince."
As seen in The Wall Street Journal, Time Out NY, NY-1 TV, Blogcritics and elsewhere, singer/pianist Tony DeSare does remarkable things on his new CD ‘PiANO', creating the sounds of multiple instruments ‘on, in or under' his acoustic piano, recording the music as the engineer, mastering the album and then shooting, editing and starring in his own videos. Technology is what allows ambitious artists such as DeSare to take this approach, as the economics of recording and releasing an independent album prompts (and requires) innovation. Blogcritics commented on DeSare's ‘sonic experimentation': "So for example, the kettle drum sound on one track was produced by setting one mic on the soundboard and a second under the keyset. DeSare then used a closed fist to strike under the keyset while holding down the sustain pedal. He describes how he got guitar and bass sounds as well."
DeSare describes the painstaking process of making the album: "PiANO is the result of over two years of experimentation and recording, all done exclusively on a Yamaha acoustic piano. Every sound you hear on this album (other than my voice) originated from somewhere in, on or under the piano. Many songs utilize more than 60 tracks of individually recorded piano parts sonically sculpted to sound like anything from a bass drum to a banjo."
In his lengthy Wall Street Journal ‘Speakeasy' article, below, Will Friedwald talks of DeSare's embrace of ‘The Contemporary American Songbook', stating "Mr. DeSare's music has been driven by a determination to bring all the music he loves together: to get the kids who love Bon Jovi to dig Cole Porter and to get the older demographic that listens to Sinatra and Tony Bennett to appreciate Prince."
A Time Out NY Critic's Pick and a NY-1 TV Your Weekend Starts Now segment previewed DeSare's NYC ‘My Generation' Concerts:
As a follow-up to the NYC shows, BroadwayWorld ran a terrific gallery of photos:
WATCH TONY DeSARE's MUSIC VIDEOS:
‘I LOVE A PIANO': http://www.youtube.com/wa...
‘JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS': http://www.youtube.com/wa...
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
BY WILL FRIEDWALD, 10/7/13
‘My Generation' Aims to Expand The Great American Songbook
The show title "My Generation" may seem direct enough, but it covers a wide range of implications. Born in 1976, Tony DeSare was, one suspects, one of the few kids in his class in Hudson Falls, New York, to be completely hooked on the music of Frank Sinatra, and as part of that, the entire so-called "Great American Songbook" that Sinatra embodied better than anyone. Yet as both a budding pianist-singer and a fan, he hardly ignored the pop music that the other kids were listening too - although as a teenager in the 1990s, he was also paying close attention to the hit songs of earlier decades, like Elton John, Billy Joel and Prince. Ever since his first solo at the Cafe Carlyle in 2004, Mr. DeSare's music has been driven by a determination to bring all the music he loves together: to get the kids who love Bon Jovi to dig Cole Porter and to get the older demographic that listens to Sinatra and Tony Bennett to appreciate Prince.
Mr. DeSare's current offering at 54 Below opens with a video prologue built around Irving Berlin's "I Love A Piano": on one day this past June, Mr. DeSare filmed himself playing and singing the 1915 song on a variety of acoustic pianos all over the city, and the point wasn't just to showcase his own performance but to show how random contemporary audiences react to the song: little kids look on with both curiosity and joyous bemusement; a pretty red-headed jogger, who's obviously an accomplished dancer, launches into spontaneous pirouettes, a couple of middle aged guys in do-rags start pounding in rhythm on the piano itself, as it it were a percussion instrument; nearly everyone takes out a camera or an iPhone to get a shot of Mr. DeSare - how 21st Century can you get? No one seems to mind or care that the song is almost a hundred years old.
By Mr. DeSare's definition, the "The Contemporary American Songbook" goes back to the mid-1960s, the era of the sea change when Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney revolutionized popular music and made the singer-songwriter its inarguable and unescapable central figure. (Ironically, the oldest song in his program, after "I Love a Piano," is the 1964 "How Sweet It Is," a song written by professional songwriters, and sung through the years by many people who did not write it, just as Irving Berlin's songs were.)
The ambition is ultimately a successful one: Mr. DeSare does indeed prove that you can take the best songs of the last 50 years, and do something that their composers, for the most part, never intended - that you can interpret them to suit your own musical personality, even as you would Richard Rodgers or Berlin. Following the video, he starts with The Doobie Brothers, "Takin' It To The Streets"; beginning like a straight "cover," that is to say, a recreation that hones to the original disc as closely as possible bereft of any individuality. It's almost as if Mr. DeSare doesn't want anyone to have to think about what the song was, he wants them to get it immediately. But within a few minutes, Mr. DeSare gradually makes the number his own, shifting the piece to more of a jazz beat and 4/4 swing phrasing. Mr. DeSare has already shown how effective this can with with "Kiss" by Prince, a piece that he acknowledges in the current show as his signature number, which he renders very effective with a swinging beat that makes it sound more like Nat King Cole.
The rest of the show contains Mr. DeSare's trademark charm and charisma - he can virtually do no wrong with crowds. (Although I personally never could figure out why they react to enthusiastically to his "Johnny B. Goode," on which he just pounds away, loud and unGodly fast but without any grace or swing.) "How Deep is Your Love" is a particular high point: the arrangement melds the BeeGees with Antonio Carlos Jobim, but obviously the guiding force is Sinatra, who showed us in his own albums with Jobim how the bossa nova might be applied to well-known North American melodies.
He winds up with Elton John's "Take Me To the Pilot," Elton John's most authentic Gospel song, which he builds to a hand-clapping finale so enthusiastically that one expects him to exit the stage and then re-enter in a prayer robe, as if the song were actually "Take Me To the Pilate." Still, "Kiss" is the centerpiece; in the text, Mr. DeSare, singing the lyrics of Prince, admonishes a woman to stop acting like a juvenile (yes, he makes a reference to the Miley Cyrus debacle - and who can blame him?) "Women, not girls, rule my world," he sings, "act your age, not your shoe size." Mr. DeSare has done just that. In numbers like this particularly well-sung, brilliantly-arranged treatment of a contemporary standard, he's brought all the generations of pop together on the same page.
BLOGCRITICS - CD review
By Jack Goodstein 10/12/13
Also seen in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and elsewhere:
Triple threat-composer, vocalist, pianist-musician Tony DeSare's latest album, PiANO, adds a fourth threat, sonic experimentalist. As he explains on the album's back cover, "PiANO is the result of over two years of experimentation and recording" on his Yamaha acoustic. "Every sound you hear on this album (other than my own voice) originated from somewhere in, on, or under the piano." So for example, the kettle drum sound on one track was produced by setting one mic on the soundboard and a second under the keyset. DeSare then used a closed fist to strike under the keyset while holding down the sustain pedal. He describes how he got guitar and bass sounds as well.
Complicated? I'll say.
Worth the effort? Well, it does give the artist complete control over process, and at the very least that assures that the end product realizes his vision. On the other hand, there is a price in the loss of spontaneity that puts too much emphasis on a kind of technical perfection. Dwelling too much on the mechanics may drain the emotion from the music.
More often than not, DeSare avoids falling into this trap. His vocals combine some of the best elements of pop, jazz, and cabaret. His piano work is dynamic. His original tunes are witty and charmingly melodic. His covers, both of classics and contemporary pieces, put his own spin on them while managing to keep to their original spirit.
Of the album's 11 songs, five are covers and six are originals. Contemporary tunes include what he calls his attempt to "capture the intimacy" of Journey's "Faithfully," and a rhythmically inventive reading of "You Give Love a Bad Name."
From the Great American Songbook, he does an instrumental version of the hoary "Autumn Leaves" that may make some of us forget the Roger Williams pop hit with it back in 1955. It is a jazzy version that develops the song without any of the pomposity of the Williams version. He adds a bonus medley of Irving Berlin's "I Love a Piano" and "Alexander's Ragtime Band" with a little of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."
His swinging nod to Cole Porter's "Just One of those Things" makes a nice comment on his own salute to the lyricist, implicit in "Chemistry." As you listen, you can't help but hear the patented Porter wit in your imagination. DeSare's "New Orleans Tango" combines the tango rhythms with a bit of blues. "A Lot to Say," which opens the album, is a rocker and "Nothing Left to Say," which would cleverly bookend the album were it not for the bonus track, is a catchy, syncopated toe-tapper.
Worth the effort? If you can come up with an album like PiANO, you bet your life it is.
As described above, DeSare's genre-bending collection sees him covering ‘The Contemporary American Songbook,' with his interpretations of Journey's classic ‘Faithfully' and Bon Jovi's ‘You Give Love a Bad Name,' even as he shows reverence for the past with his upbeat immersion in the seminal music of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Johnny Mercer and more. His original tracks, which round out the 11-song collection, reveal his promise as the ‘next generation of showman', able to evoke such icons as Frank Sinatra and Vic Damone in the same breath as such contemporary superstars as Billy Joel, Michael Bublé or Harry Connick, Jr. DeSare defies easy categorization, with forays into jazz, pop, standards and more. At once old-school and utterly modern, DeSare opens with an uptempo James Booker/Thom Yorke-inspired original ‘A Lot to Say', before seamlessly shifting to Cole Porter's ‘Just One of Those Things'. Watch the EPK, and listen to audio samples, here: http://www.youtube.com/wa...
‘PiANO', which was produced by DeSare and Allen J. Sviridoff, is being accompanied by a U.S. tour. The concept of the tour is ‘My Generation', reflecting DeSare's emergence as the ‘go-to-guy' for seeking out and interpreting classics within The Contemporary American Songbook:
11/02/2013 | NJPAC American Songbook Series - Newark, NJ
11/15/2013 - 11/16/2013 | The New Rrazz Room - New Hope, PA
11/20/2013 | Wilson Center - Brookfield, WI
11/30/2013 | Charles R Wood Theater - Glens Falls, NY
12/07-08/2013| Christmas Show - Seven Angels Theater w/ Tom Santopietro - Waterbury, CT
12/13/2013 - 12/15/2013 | Jacksonville Symphony Jacoby Symphony Hall, Jacksonville FL
12/18/2013 - 12/21/2013 | Naples Philharmonic Center For the Arts, Naples FL
I have been fascinated with recording technology just about as long as I have played my chosen instrument, the piano. When I was first learning to play, I was simultaneously learning how to use MIDI sequencers and drum machines and learning how to mix on a little four track cassette recorder.
The idea for this record started initially out of frustration with always having to use digital samples in a small Manhattan apartment recording studio to produce my music.
I had just recently purchased my first baby grand piano and had the assignment from Allen Sviridoff, my manager, to arrange and demo a Bon Jovi song. After a few hours of tinkering, I realized that the only part of the demo I liked was the sound of my new Yamaha DC3 piano. It sounded so organic and real and had that magic only a living, breathing, analog instrument could. I thought to myself..."too bad I can't use the piano to record the whole track!", and the idea for this album was born.
The process was tedious...both in the trial and error of things like exactly where to tap, pluck or pound piano for the best sound and then where to place which microphone. For example, many of the guitar sounds are played with a guitar pick on the piano string, then processed with EQ, reverb and often run through some of Cubase's great guitar amp simulators.
The big kettle drum sound from You Give Love a Bad Name was made by putting a microphone on the soundboard and another right under the keyset. I would then strike under the keyset with a closed fist while holding down the sustain pedal. The acoustic bass sound was made by first recording the bass part into Cubase using the Disklavier function on my Yamaha DC3. Then, as the piano played itself back, I would manually mute the bass strings just enough to take out the high overtones but leave a sustained, bass-like tone.
The recording process wasn't without its other daily challenges! About two weeks into the process, First Avenue right outside my apartment was ripped up for construction. I had to find little breaks between jackhammers to record a few measures at a time.
It got so difficult that my wife Daisy insisted that I move the piano into our bedroom in the back of the railroad style Manhattan apartment since it would be. We slept with the piano in there for about two months. At least I had a short commute!
In addition to the many original songs on this album, I recorded a few of what I call Contemporary Standards. These are songs that maybe haven't been officially inducted into the Great American Songbook, but certainly have the qualifications for being in there. For example, a song like Faithfully written by Jonathan Cain and originally performed by Journey is still played every day on the radio, has been covered by a wide range of artists, was featured recently on the hit TV show, Glee, and the song is also thirty years old. Sustaining power is the real test of a great song.
Identifying these "contemporary standards" is fun for an interpreter of songs because they haven't been explored as exhaustively as the wonderful catalogs of Gershwin, Porter and Berlin. I also feel that by taking on the challenge to prove that these works (by writers like Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney and dozens of others) are indeed ‘the new standards', it helps make the case that the songs themselves can continue to live on free of their original recordings and arrangements.
For the opening track, A Lot To Say, I wanted to write a song that was really an introduction to what was to come on the rest of this album. 100% piano and incorporating many different influences and genres in one... James Booker inspired syncopated rhythms, "four on the floor" dance beat, hip hop style breakdown and Thom Yorke inspired backing vocals.
One of my all time favorite Cole Porter songs is Just One of Those Things. My intention from a technical and recording standpoint was to make the piano "dance" like a jazz quartet.
I always wanted to write a tango. Every time I started messing around with the tango rhythm, my right hand started playing bluesy New Orleans piano riffs.....and the New Orleans Tango was born.
Faithfully, by Journey is one of my favorite ballads from the 80's. I wanted to capture the intimacy of the song, and chose to perform it with only the majestic sound of the Yamaha Concert Grand at Skywalker Sound.
You Give Love A Bad Name was the first song that I recorded with the 100% piano approach. The BIG bass drum sound was made by miking the sound board and slamming my fists under the wood under the keys.
Chemistry is an original song, written in the tradition of so many of my favorite American Songbook standards.
I really have come to learn that love is not something that you think, it's something you feel...and those feelings occur in those spaces in between thoughts. And that's how Where Love Lives has evolved. From a production standpoint, this took a very long time to approximate the guitar/harp like parts. I plucked every note by hand. The shaker was made by rubbing my palm on the unfinished wood portion of the inside of the piano and miking very close.
Autumn Leaves is the first jazz standard I learned to play on the piano. This recording includes my variations on it, and is the only instrumental, solo piano track on this CD (again recorded on the amazing Yamaha Concert Grand at Skywalker).
I wrote Christmas For You and Me a few days before Christmas in 2009. I was in my Manhattan apartment and the weather was just terrible out. The year had been a pretty tough one and I just sat down and wrote this song very quickly. As for the production, I used a lot of playing notes in reverse order and then reversing the recording for effect.
Nothing Left to Say is my ‘tip of the hat' to the incomparable genius of Paul McCartney. I wrote this after I had been dating Daisy (now my wife) for a few months. We hadn't gotten serious at that point but I realized after I wrote that song that I was really falling for her!
The bonus track on this CD is I Love A Piano, and Mr. Irving Berlin said it best when he wrote this incredible song. He couldn't have expressed my own feelings towards his, and my, favorite instrument any better. You can watch the video here:
http://www.youtube.com/wa... , which I made with the Sing For Hope pianos that were placed throughout New York City in June 2013. In just a few short minutes, it tells of the love I have for music, for art, for New York City, and a P-I-A-N-O. Tony DeSare, 08/14/13
Introduction & Bio:
Singer, pianist and songwriter Tony DeSare - was named a "Rising Star" Male Vocalist in the Downbeat Critics Poll. He has won critical and popular acclaim for his concert performances throughout the United States as well as in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong.
"With his dark hair, bright brown eyes and toothpaste smile that rarely fades," raved The New York Times, "DeSare is one of the most promising young male performers. He is a Sinatra acolyte in his early 30s who sings Prince as well as Johnny Mercer..." The NY Times wrote further: "DeSare is Two parts young Sinatra, one part Billy Joel, meshed seamlessly ..." The Wall Street Journal followed with: "He is one third Bobby Darin, one third Bobby Short and one third Bobby Kennedy." According to USA Today, "DeSare belongs to a group of neo-traditional upstarts stretching from Harry Connick Jr, to Michael Bublé and Jamie Cullum. DeSare covers old and newer pop and jazz standards without smothering or over-thinking the material."
Tony has been compared with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin for his romantic interpretations of love songs. His latest endeavors for 2013 include: putting together a brand new live show entitled "My Generation: The Contemporary American Songbook." Everyone knows the brilliance of the Great American Songbook - which has been performed for many years, and in many different ways. But that songbook has been expanding beyond 1955 and now is the time to celebrate other writers who created iconic music in the past half century. Tony has labeled this The Contemporary American Songbook, and it is a way of inducting the many great songs and songwriters into the already defined Songbook list which includes Gershwin, Berlin, Porter and Kern. Tony's new show will celebrate the genius of writers like Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Carole King, and Michael MacDonald, as well as ‘adopted' American songwriters like Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Barry Gibb. As always - Tony will have some exciting new material of his own - and a few wonderful surprises to share with the audience.
Tony's other major project for 2013 is the release of his CD entitled: "PiANO". Tony describes his work: PiANO is the result of over two years of experimentation and recording all done exclusively on a Yamaha acoustic piano. Every sound you hear on this album (other than my voice) originated from somewhere in, on or under the piano. Many songs utilize more than 60 tracks of individually recorded piano parts sonically sculpted to sound like anything from a bass drum to a banjo.
Tony DeSare performs with infectious joy, wry playfulness, and robust musicality. His take on classic standards and sophisticated original compositions has earned him a reputation as one of the country's hottest young singer/pianists. His sound is romantic, swinging and sensual, but what sets Tony apart is his ability to write original material that sounds fresh and at the same time blends seamlessly with the Great American Songbook as well as the Contemporary American Songbook. Tony has the capability to glide from a standard by George Gershwin to a classic by Bob Dylan or Paul McCartney to one of his inventive original songs with ease.
Most recently, DeSare has performed with world-class symphony Orchestras in California, New York (Carnegie Hall), Indianapolis, Atlanta, and many more. He has also had the privilege of opening several times in the recent past for the Legendary Don Rickles. "He is such a heavyweight in his own right, Mr. Tony DeSare" -Don Rickles October, 2011.
His original song "Let's Just Stay In," was featured in the 20th Century Fox film The Tooth Fairy, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Ashley Judd, Billy Crystal and Julie Andrews. Tony composed and performed the title theme to My Date With Drew, an independent documentary feature film about a guy who has 30 days and $1100 to get a date with Drew Barrymore. It has been featured on "The Tonight Show," "The Today Show," Playboy Magazine, Entertainment Weekly and Premiere. The film was awarded top honors at the New York Gen Arts Festival, the HBO Comedy Arts Festival and the Vail Film Festival - and was released in theatres nationwide in 2005.
Tony was born and raised in Glens Falls, New York to a musical family and began singing and playing professionally at 17. By the time Tony started college, he had opened for visiting headliners and built a large regional following playing to packed houses. The Tony DeSare Trio was one of the most popular bands in central New York State while Tony attended Ithaca College. Tony and his band continually sold out shows in clubs and showcases throughout upstate New York. He took first place in the "IC Showcase," a college sponsored national battle of the bands and was a semi-finalist in the MasterCard Acts, a national talent search for college performers.
Shortly after moving to New York City in 1999, Tony was cast as the star of the long running Off-Broadway musical smash, Our Sinatra, in which he was praised by Variety for his "dapper charm." In the fall of 2002, Tony performed at the legendary Apollo Theater where he first met jazz guitar icon Bucky Pizzarelli. Since then, Bucky has continued to perform with Tony's band around the country. Tony was also featured in New York TV personality Bill Boggs's Off Broadway show Talk Show Confidential at the John Houseman Theater.
DeSare's noted versatility enables him to headline a variety of venues. He has performed at major jazz rooms like Birdland and the Blue Note with his quartet; posh nightclubs like the Café Carlyle, Feinstein's at the Regency, and 54 Below; with his big band in concert halls like Jazz at Lincoln Center; or with 80-piece symphony orchestras.
Tony DeSare is a Yamaha Artist.
More Information: http://www.tonydesare.com/