Singer, songwriter and pianist Tony DeSare has earned fans around the world for his jazzy vocals, and the handsome performer is bringing his new show, “Making Love Songs” to 54 Below, running October 2 through 6 and October 9 through 13. Backed by the Tony DeSare quartet, Glens Fall, NY, native mixes classic standards and his own original compositions. Below, DeSare shares his musical faves, from Billy Joel to “The Nearness of You.” (For a preview of DeSare's musical style, check out the video below of one of his original compositions, "How I Feel For You.")
What record/album was your favorite growing up?
I had a lot of favorites once I started getting into jazz and classic pop singers, but the one album that stayed with me the whole time was Billy Joel’s The Stranger. It’s when Billy really came into his own as a songwriter, singer and showman.
What concert most influenced you as a performer?
Harry Connick Jr.'s Blue Light Red Light tour in the early 1990s. He toured with a full big band that was so tight and had the road muscle you don’t get when local musicians are hired for big band shows.
What song are you most excited to perform in your show?
I've created an arrangement of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” that I’m excited to debut. It’s been so fun to play in rehearsals. I can't wait to see how crowds respond to it!
What musical theater track is the most played on your iPod?
“Pretty Women” from Sweeney Todd.
If you could invite any performer onstage for a duet at 54 Below, who would it be?
This may seem from left field, but I always thought it would be so fun to sing a duet of a pretty ballad with Bonnie Raitt.
What musical theater performer from the past do you wish you can collaborate with?
Well, rather than a stage performer, I would have loved to collaborate with some of the great Broadway composers of the past. It’s true when they say they don't write them like they used to. I know Cole Porter wasn’t a collaborator, per se, but it’s a fun thought to think of writing a song with him.
What’s your favorite love song?
I’ve always loved “The Nearness of You.” Just a perfect love song in every way and doesn’t even have the word love in it!
What is your favorite workout track?
Any guy that was a kid when the Rocky movies would have to say Bill Conti’s brilliant “Gonna Fly Now” Rocky theme.
Favorite break-up song?
“I’m a Fool to Want You”: It’s a great song and has a legendary Sinatra story attached to it. Apparently, right after recording that song in the studio, Frank ran out and ended the session because he was so heartsick over Ava Gardner.
What song most makes you smile?
Any of those very funny Randy Newman songs...like “Rednecks,” “Short People,” “Political Science.” The combination of his whip-smart writing and croaky vocals always gets me.