Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara’s releases debut collaboration album
Timeless – Hits of Love and Hope from Pop, Rock & Soft Rock, the acclaimed new album from collaborating flutists Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara, begins a humble piano melody from Allison Brewster Franzetti in “Your Song” before unleashing the soft, unsuspectingly evocative harmonies of wind instruments as they were always meant to be heard – free of any sonic interference. Through this track, “Perfect,” “We’ve Only Just Begun” and a stunning take on the Eric Clapton staple “Wonderful Tonight,” the three artists invite us into a word of tonal communication inaccessible in similarly stylized pop affairs, all the while utilizing conservative aesthetics far more than they do anything that could be described as indulgent or artistically excessive.
“So Far Away” is a bit more piano-based than “American Girl” is, but that doesn’t stop Markoff and Lazzara from putting quite the gorgeous finishing touch on the legendary melody the song has to offer. “Yesterday” probably has the most uniquely tempered arrangement of any track here, and though it’s followed by some truly sensuous performances in “Verdi Cries,” “Havana” and “If You Could Read My Mind,” I think it stands out as being one of the more experimentally-minded songs on Timeless – Hits of Love and Hope from Pop, Rock & Soft Rock. There are a lot of different ways to play all of this material, and it was wise on the part of these musicians to stay away from anything that had been worked to death prior to 2019 (i.e. the standardized wedding versions of “The Way We Were” and John Denver’s incomparable “Annie’s Song”).
70’s pop lovers get another reshaped classic here in the form of “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” that challenges the original with regards to dishing out a finely-tuned, swinging harmony that could intoxicate listeners as much as an actual glass of cognac would, but for those who can’t get enough of a good 90’s beat, Markoff and Lazzara take on “I Want It That Way” with a robust musical athleticism that should be applauded. “Titanium,” my favorite song from the latter half of Timeless – Hits of Love and Hope from Pop, Rock & Soft Rock, aches with the most emotion of any track here, but it doesn’t overshadow the brilliant tonality of “Unchained Melody” at all; admittedly no easy feat by any critical standards.
Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara’s debut collaboration album comes to a conclusion with a four minute opus in “American Tune” followed by a kaleidoscopic rendition of “Hallelujah” that really puts the cherry on top of this sonic sundae like nothing else could have. I came into this review of Timeless – Hits of Love and Hope from Pop, Rock & Soft Rock with reservations about how much an instrumental flute cover album could actually win my heart, but nevertheless, its eighteen songs did the trick without any of the typical hiccups a record of this nature would face. Markoff, Lazzara and Franzetti make one heck of a strong team, and connoisseurs of sublime harmonies everywhere should consider their record a must-listen this month.