Two years in the making, vocalist-pianist Tony DeSare’s intriguing venture into sonic experimentation began soon after he took delivery of a Yahama Disklavier DC3 piano. Working on an arrangement of “You Give Love a Bad Name” in his apartment studio, DeSare grew frustrated by the limitations of digital samples. His solution, begun with that Bon Jovi track and extended across nine additional covers and originals, was to create full-bodied arrangements using only the acoustic 88s.
Working “on, in or under” his DC3 (and, for two tracks, a Yahama Concert Grand), DeSare spent endless hours devising the precise sounds he wanted: Plucking the piano strings to replicate guitars and harps, rubbing the unfinished interior wood to suggest a shaker, slamming his fists under the keyboard to create a bass drum, etc. The effects are cleverly rendered, his tinkering sounding wholly organic.
The diverse playlist bounces from a loose, bubbly “Just One of Those Things” and a marvelously propulsive “Autumn Leaves” (the album’s sole instrumental track) to an emphatic reading of Journey’s “Faithfully.” Equally interesting are the half-dozen originals, including the James Booker-inspired “A Lot to Say,” the blazing “New Orleans Tango” and the tender “Where Love Lives.” As a clever coda, DeSare adds a jaunty “I Love a Piano” entwined with “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”