Musician Tony DeSare shares 5 realities of jazz music; performs at Vail Jazz

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Musician Tony DeSare helped raise funds for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico in 2017 with his unique rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Despacito”, which received over 4 million views on YouTube. The singer and pianist gives three shows over two evenings as part of the Vail Jazz Festival.
Charles Townsend Bessent | Daily Special

Singer and pianist Tony DeSare has often been considered a young Frank Sinatra. While he can swing with the best of them on any classic jazz act, the 42-year-old New York native puts his bright and totally unique imprint on just about everything he produces.

Take, for example, Justin Bieber’s pop hit “Despacito”. In an effort to raise funds for the victims of last year’s Puerto Rico hurricane, DeSare teamed up with “Hamilton” star Mandy Gonzalez and Postmodern Jukebox for a mesmerizing rendition of the pop song that starred. To date generated over 4 million views on YouTube. Also last year, DeSare created the full sheet music for Lifetime movie “Hush Little Baby” and released their sixth full album, “One For My Baby”.

Before returning to Vail this week for a pair of intimate solo performances on Wednesday July 25 at Sonnenalp and “Vegas-style swing” with the H2 Big Band on Thursday July 26 in Vail Square, DeSare took on the definition of ” Jazz.”



Here’s what he had to say about why the genre, especially its own version, might surprise people.

1: He transcended the generations



“I think jazz has become sort of an all-encompassing term for hard-to-categorize types of music that tend to use more sophisticated harmonies and have an element of improvisation. For baby boomers and millennials, jazz seems to have become a bit of a four-letter word, at least in mainstream culture.

2: Jazz has no borders

“As for the limits of jazz today, there doesn’t seem to be any, as jazz festivals usually even include rock, blues and pop acts among the more traditional jazz acts. There is certainly still a culture of people who have followed and keep abreast of the art of jazz and its history. In this culture, the definition of jazz is much narrower. I would say what I do has generally been on the periphery of this niche, although I certainly enjoy it myself.



3: Pop music and jazz share some of the same genes

“I fell in love with pop music and love classic pop, which was really great melody and lyrics. These songwriters and artists have drawn on the vocabulary of jazz music and I consider myself part of that tradition. “

4: The magic comes down to every song

“I present songs that swing, have sophisticated melodies and jazz chords and I will improvise solos here and there, but for me the most important thing is the feeling and the content of the song itself. A more “purist” vision of jazz would favor improvisation as a selling point of the performance, the song being more the vehicle by which it is delivered. In other words, if I sing a song like “All the Things You Are” by Kern and Hammerstein, my goal would be to deliver the tender emotion of the song and present it more as the songwriters understood it then. A modern jazz band will use the melody and chords change more as a starting point to make a new statement which is often an interesting contrast to the original standard.

5: It all depends on what is real and in the moment

“Overall, I think the definition of what jazz encompasses keeps getting wider and more and more people understand that the jazz label doesn’t really mean a particular style. I feel like the term jazz suggests the idea that music is organic, real, and up to date, not that it has to necessarily swing, have lots of solos, feel serious, etc.


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