Want You, the new debut recording from vocalist/pianist Tony DeSare, is a surprisingly wonderful disc. The surprise comes from the fact that so many of the straight-ahead vocal jazz recordings released these days strike me as pretentious, convoluted and devoid of any authentic emotion. It takes a jazz singer with special type of talent to rise above the label of ‘lounge singer’ and DeSare has that talent in spades - and then some.
Let’s start with the obvious - the guy can sing. He has a warm, inviting tenor voice with dead-on pitch and a way of approaching a song that creates an instant sense of intimacy and understanding between listener and performer. But he doesn’t stop there. He’s also a fantastic piano player with pro-level chops, whether accompanying himself, comping behind one of the great soloists on this recording or playing lead. In addition, he’s a fine composer, co-writing five of the album’s thirteen songs with bass player Mike Lee and contributing one of his own. Add his movie-star good looks to the mix and you have a very complete package.
In addition to the six originals featured here, DeSare and company also tackle some great standards by the likes of Jule Styne ("Just In Time"), Henry Mancini ("Two For The Road"), and Johnny Mercer ("Something’s Gotta Give"), among others. Joining him and bassist Lee on this recording are Bob Howell on tenor sax, Joe Palermo and Bucky Pizzarelli on guitar, John Swana on trumpet, Brian Czach and Vic Stephens on drums and Ted Firth on piano (on the two tracks that DeSare doesn’t play piano on). One of the signs of a great band leader is his ability to create a band that functions as unit, and DeSare has certainly achieved that with this band. You never get the impression that the band is there simply to cater to his whims and desires. He unselfishly gives them plenty of room to contribute, each in their own way, and it makes for a more substantial, earthy recording than if he had tried to hog all the spotlight for himself.With an legitimate classic jazz style I haven’t heard since the early Harry Connick, Jr. recordings, Want You is a truly impressive debut from a very talented young man that I have no doubt has a great career ahead of him.