REVIEW: Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara — Havanna (SINGLE)
There’s a distinct serenity that abounds on the latest single, “Havanna” from Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara’s album, “Romances in Blue”. For those unfamiliar with the work of this incredibly distinct flutist duo, their road to musical stardom was paved with a learning curve as Steve actually started off as Patricia’s student, and the growth the two have shared over their many years since is palpable.
I would argue that the two bring out the best of one another, and having listened earlier this year to their very enjoyable cover of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up”, I would certainly argue that this release blows that one out the water. This being an original composition already piqued my interest as covers can tend to be dime-a-dozen despite how good their Groban one was. This one however swept me away and for such a minimalist approach of the respective flutists with some beautifully added piano by Grammy nominee Allison Brewster Franzetti, the whole recording feels cinematic, like something from a Miyazaki movie, or the rush and joy of getting lost in a painting. In my last review for their release, I said the familiarity of their work with covers might act as a good entry point for their work and for those looking to get into more for lack of a better term “classical” instrumentals, but while this one isn’t a foreboding “expert” mode, it’s just so delightful and engaging, I might be at a loss for words because instrumentals are one of those types of music that you listen to first, and then come back to the critique afterward.
When I first listened to this track, I was in the middle of the walk which is how I usually like to do my first listens, and from the initial somber notes, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the noted Piano immediately got me interested as I’m a sucker for some good keys and this one more than delivers. As the song slowly picks up and almost has this pseudo jazzy feel to this, something atmospheric like the end of a Humphrey Bogart movie, you’re bound to have a lot of different emotions plucked out of you. For me it was nostalgia and then as the song truly picks up around the minute and a half mark, I was flooded with visions of nature, countrysides in Europe, which is funny considering the song is called “Havanna”, but you can hear the spikes of Cuban musical influence in there, and that’s the beauty of instrumental tracks, they’re subjective so you’ll bring your own baggage to it.
Nevertheless, you’ll find yourself so easily transported by the trio and it honestly made my walk feel like a journey as much as the song takes you on one, grounded by the amazing playing of all three, masters of their craft. Instrumentals are often relegated to the ghettos of “music we put on while eating dinner at a party” and don’t do this track that disservice. It commands the audience and takes them someplace in a way that can’t be duplicated and it’s well worth the trip.