Tony DeSare

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Singing jazz pianists haven't always gotten a fair shake from critics, but Tony DeSare's CD debut for Telarc demonstrates a potential to win them over while also appealing to a wider audience. Backed by a swinging band that includes veteran guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, DeSare's warm vocals are complemented by his piano chops in the brisk workout of "Just in Time." It is also refreshing to hear a performer mine overlooked gems like Cy Coleman's "Baby Dream Your Dream," "We've Got a World That Swings," and a campy striding instrumental arrangement of the oldie "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue," in which Pizzarelli and bassist Mike Lee give the leader a run for his money with their respective solos. But the best surprise is the quality of DeSare's originals (most of which were jointly written with Lee). Jazz vocalists are always looking for new material despite the dearth of compelling songs emerging from modern Broadway musicals and the world of pop. DeSare offers up warm, swinging ballads like the appealing "Want You" (which adds John Swana's delicious muted trumpet) and the heartfelt "How Will I Say I Love You" (which adds a string section), and while "(I'd Have It All) If I Had Drew" may be a one-shot novelty due to its subject matter (as it was written for the independent film My Date With Drew), it still swings nicely. The poppish "Marry Me" is one track that jazz fans can bypass, but on the whole, there are plenty of reasons for them to snap up this rewarding CD.

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