Tony DeSare Does Sinatra His Way At Houston Symphony

Tony DeSare loves a piano.
Tony DeSare loves a piano. Photo by Bill Westmoreland
The legend. The icon. Frank Sinatra defined an entire generation of cool, and he did it his way. Step back in time as Houston favorite Tony DeSare, one of today’s leading Sinatra interpreters, recreates the Rat Pack swagger and timeless magic of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, delivering showstoppers like "Come Fly with Me," "It Was a Very Good Year" and "New York, New York." Presented by the Houston Symphony, DeSare brings limitless musical talent, that million dollar smile and the songs of yore to Jones Hall for Sinatra and Beyond January 3-5.

Even better, this isn't your grandma's Sinatra show. It's made for every age to enjoy.

"Sometimes someone will go with their parents or grandparents and think it’s not for their generation, but this is both your grandfather's show and it’s also the Sinatra show for someone in their 20s who loves music. It’s got a different energy. It’s as if the music came out last week. It’s a fun and young Sinatra tribute," DeSare said.

Sinatra's style was unmistakable. It was lighting in a bottle. With DeSare's modernized sounds, we're lucky to once again have the pizzaz Sinatra personified.

"The thing about Sinatra is that he’s such an interesting artist. He’s one of the most interesting figures of the last century, and he came along at a time when he pioneered audio recording technology. The songs of his era were just so good," DeSare said. "He was the first rock star. The show is about capturing the magic of that genre and the magic he was able to bring without imitating him. There’s no way anyone can measure up to that. He was one of a kind."

DeSare has been hailed by The New York Times as “a lean, baby Sinatra with burning brown eyes and flashing teeth…his intonation and enunciation are impeccable.” The truth, though, is that music has always been in the forefront of his mind. It started at an early age, and it's a family tradition.

"My dad, though he isn’t a professional, he’d play guitar for hours every day. Anything from The Beatles to James Taylor. There was always music in the house. The first instrument I learned was violin, but I was always fascinated by piano. Eventually, my parents got me a keyboard," he said. "Then, I started singing, and by the time I graduated, I was singing in bars and hotels, and that kicked it all off."

It turns out, music has taken him around the world and continues to be his money maker.

"I love doing the show. A good two-thirds is full on Frank Sinatra arrangements. The other third, I bring the show into the 21st century. The idea is the art form Sinatra invents can be used with other artists. I wanted to put a little of that in the show," he said.

As celebrated as DeSare is for his vocals and Sinatra-esque presence, he's a musician at heart. He gives his velvet voice a rest at times during the show and instead spotlights his incredible talent tickling the ivory.

While he is an accomplished performer of big band music, he's also well accomplished in his own artistry. Named a Rising Star Male Vocalist by DownBeat Magazine, he has lived up to the distinction by winning critical and popular acclaim for his concert performances throughout North America and abroad. He has four Billboard Top Ten jazz albums and has been featured on NPR, A Prairie Home Companion, CBS' The Early Show and NBC's Today. He won first place in the USA Songwriting Competition, composed the full soundtracks for Hallmark's Love Always, Santa and Lifetime's Nanny Nightmare and received the contracts for several broadcast commercials.

He also has his own YouTube channel, where he regularly releases new tracks. But for those who prefer the live action, the wait won't be long. As a bonus, the personable performer sticks around after the show to greet fans, so there's that to look forward to.

Catch Sinatra and Beyond from January 3-5 at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information or tickets, call 713-244-7575 or visit Tickets range $25 to $159.
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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd