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Tony DeSare: Under the Hood

Inside, outside and all around an acoustic piano

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Tony DeSare

The piano has long been one of music’s most versatile instruments. But on his fourth and latest album, jazz and pop pianist-singer Tony DeSare stretched the limits of his Yamaha DC3 Disklavier Pro even further, coaxing the gentle thump of a bass drum by pounding his fist on the frame, or picking the strings to provide a gentle acoustic guitar. The result is the aptly named PiANO (AJD), a collection of 11 originals and covers, some with rich instrumentation and arrangements, all recorded with only the acoustic grand piano.

Originally, DeSare intended to record just his piano parts and flesh out the rest of the arrangements with samples. “[But] any time I pulled up a synth sound-synth drums, synth bass-it sounded inorganic, like a cruise ship band, no matter what I did,” said DeSare, 38. “The only thing I liked was the pianos on the demo tracks. I started to think, ‘What if I did the whole thing on the piano?'”

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