REVIEW: Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara — Nights In White Satin (SINGLE)
Why mess with what works? Though it might be a system for flutists Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara, along with featured pianist Allison Brewster Franzetti, the latest release “Nights In White Satin” is a dreamy escape into a lovely emotional world.
Sounding anything but formulaic, the trio bring together an exceptional rapport that further illustrates their dynamic chemistry. “Nights In White Satin”, a 1967 Moody Blues original, is an ideal song to give the instrumental treatment. Featuring a cool ebb and flow of arrangements, Markoff and Lazzara have once again struck gold with their delightful sonic blend.
Markoff, who hails from New Jersey and plays the alto flute, brings a unique perspective that melts with the original tones. The song, to me, is embedded in the Sixties psychedelic and near operatic vibes. It’s a song of yearning, of unrequited love. Markoff’s background is also versed in Celtic and baroque and I can feel the flutter of the flute trickling from those Bohemian-like flavors. You can glide alongside the anticipation, the anguish of a love that will never happen. “Nights In White Satin” has this subtle, yet grandiose cinematic engagement.
The listener really feels the weight of the songs — funny considering the flute is such a light instrument. Still, I think Markoff and Lazzara nail that emotional baggage happening in the song. You do feel like you’re plopped into another time, a far off land with their rendition. In a weird way, it’s like listening to a fantasy or being guided along a tale of the Middle Ages. It’s quite interesting and invigorating. There’s such a pretty sound coming from the flute, yet there is depth and honor in its delivery.
Lazzara, who is also from New Jersey, is a three-time winner of the Artists International Competition and has performed on such esteemed stages as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. The two met when Lazzara taught Markoff music lessons. Franzetti, based in New York City, is a two-time Latin Grammy nominee (2014, 2018) for Best Classical Album and is a 2008 Grammy nominee for Best Instrumental Soloist Without Orchestra. Franzetti’s piano work is modest but don’t take that to mean it’s not there. The piano tones are just as beautiful and riveting.
I’m confident fans of The Moody Blues will appreciate this cover. I think it further defines Markoff, Lazzara and Franzetti’s cohesive artistry. Something wonderful happens when they record music and I don’t think you can fake that with all the knobs and doo-dads of the world from inside a studio. I think their passion and love for their instruments takes total precedence.
The choice to be an instrumental — heavy on the flute — is welcomed. It really cut to the core of my emotions hearing the flute journey from a whisper, to hitting those notes that evoke such pain. Whereas some might need a full orchestra, this trio accomplishes so much. A mighty team, and a mighty impact — “Nights In White Satin” is a triumphant sonic joy. Don’t miss out on this excellent song.