ONE FOR MY BABY
Tony DeSare & Edward Decker
Jazz singers teaming up with pianists for stripped-down duet albums are not new. A singer with a guitar accompanist, on the other hand, is more unusual and merits more attention.
Singer Tony DeSare is an amiable Frank Sinatra wannabe with an easygoing style. He has been marketed as a Michael Buble clone, which does him an injustice as he is more confident in his phrasing than Buble.
In his latest album, DeSare achieves an appealingly mellow vibe, with the laid-back accompaniment of long-time sideman guitarist Edward Decker on a seven-string instrument.
Opening with Sinatra's Angel Eyes, he sings with a considered delivery that achieves the sudden intimacy of a midnight confidence.
The thoughtfulness he brings to the ballad-heavy programme gives sweet nuance to songs such as You Go To My Head and Sarah McLachlan's When She Loved Me from Toy Story 2 and prevents the pace from sliding into a comatose bore.
Veteran guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, father of singer John Pizzarelli, pops by for some sparkling melody work on Memories Of You.
DeSare may not be an instant classic, but this is a thoroughly winsome album, a perfect soundtrack for winding down the party season.
Ong Sor Fern
2017 NEW YEAR'S CONCERT
Vienna Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel
Sony Classical 88985376152 (2 CDs)
It is amazing to ponder the fact that the New Year's Day Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra continues to bring up new works never previously performed at this landmark institution.
Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel's first appearance unfortunately did not present some Latino pops classics. But no less than eight "premieres" were heard, including favourites such as Emile Waldteufel's Skater's Waltz (Les Patineurs) and Franz von Suppe's Pique Dame Overture.
The concert opened with Franz Lehar's Nechledil March, every bit as rousing and clappable as Johann Strauss the Elder's Radetzky March that closed the event.
In between, there were first performances of the younger Johann Strauss' Rotunde-Quadrille, Die Extravaganten and fast polkas Auf Zum Tanze! (Let's Dance!) and Pepita Polka, all sparkling like bubbly champagne.
The Wiener Singverein chorus also made its debut, singing in the Moon Chorus from The Merry Wives Of Windsor by the orchestra's founder, Otto Nicolai.
Not to be outdone, the orchestral players have their voices heard in Strauss' Tik-Tak Polka (not to be confused with the better-known Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka) besides their customary shouted new year's greeting.
The Beautiful Blue Danube gets its due, as always - what would the Vienna New Year's Concert be without it?
Chang Tou Liang