Tony DeSare channels Frank Sinatra with the help of Oklahoma City Philharmonic 

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It is rare to find someone who isn’t familiar with Frank Sinatra’s recordings. “My Way” and “New York, New York” are a part of the fabric of American popular music. Yet few have heard Sinatra the way he heard it in the studio — with a live orchestra. This is an experience singer and composer Tony DeSare wants to share with metro music lovers when he collaborates with Oklahoma City Philharmonic.

Sinatra and Beyond, part of the philharmonic’s Pops series, happens 8 p.m. February and Saturday at Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave.

“I’m so glad to be able to keep it alive onstage,” DeSare said about Sinatra’s works. “It’s alive music. [Sinatra] recorded with an orchestra live in the studio the same way. They haven’t done that in years. If you’re coming to the show, you can experience the music as it was meant to be.”

However, DeSare does more than just cover Sinatra tunes or impersonate the iconic Italian American’s beloved cadence and swagger. Instead, DeSare takes pages from Sinatra’s playbook, using songs from over 100 years of American pop music, and makes them his own. For example, “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” might be followed by Prince’s “Kiss” or a song by Carole King or even Jerry Lee Lewis.

“The ‘Great American Songbook’ term is thrown around a lot,” DeSare said. “It tends to be interpreted by people as old, out-of-date songs. I don’t necessarily think the Great American Songbook is closed. Songs are still being written.”

DeSare, 40, grew up in Glen Falls, New York, where he developed a love of music at an early age. When he was 9 years old, DeSare’s parents bought him a Casio keyboard to get him started. He joined jam sessions with his father, who played guitar.

“When they saw that I was serious about it,” he explained, “they got me a bigger and more professional large-sized keyboard.”

DeSare’s musical interests started with ragtime, Scott Joplin tunes and other American pop music standards. At age 15, he discovered Sinatra, especially the recordings from the 1950s and ’60s.

“Like all great art, it sounded timeless to me,” DeSare said. “It didn’t sound like old music. It sounded very alive, and I related to it. I started to sing. Before too long, I was performing it for other people.”

By the late ’90s, DeSare moved to New York City. His first major performances were off-Broadway with the cast of the Our Sinatra music review, where he sang numbers such as “All the Way,” “Come Fly with Me” and “Birth of the Blues.”

“It taught me a lot about doing a show — how a show is put together, the business side of doing a show eight times a week,” he said. It also taught him how to “keep your stamina, keep your voice strong and keep your body healthy.”

He befriended the owner of Birdland jazz club, signed a recording contract and performed at iconic venues like Blue Note, Carnegie Hall and Apollo Theater.

Since then, DeSare has performed live across the globe and appeared on CBS’ The Early Show, NBC’s Today show and NPR and has headlined with one of Sinatra’s friends, comic legend Don Rickles. His Billboard Top 10 jazz albums of standards and original compositions include Last First Kiss, Want You and Radio Show.

For DeSare, an audience at one of his shows should be “ready to be entertained.”

“I look at these shows as a way for us  all to put matters out of our minds that day — including myself — and give ourselves over to the music,” he said.

Visit or call 405-842-5387.

Print headline: DeSare’s ‘Way’, Tony DeSare represents a new generation of jazz as he and OKC Philharmonic showcase  the songs of Frank Sinatra.

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Brian Daffron

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