Long awaited and highly anticipated; the release of Steve Markoff & Patricia Lazzara‘s third album is finally upon us. This project is a long time coming for the accomplished duo, the first single off the record making an appearance in November of 2021. This was followed by five more single releases preceding the full 15 track album. Notably, this album fully lives up to its name as it’s comprised solely of songs requested of the duo by family, friends, and fans. And always, Markoff & Lazzara are accompanied by pianist Allison Brewster Franzetti, and the trio are at unquestionably at their peak in By Request.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
It’s easy to feel like we’ve already had more than a hearty serving of this album with the many lead-up singles, but even at the first track we find there’s still so many new things to enjoy. Let It Be seems like the perfect candidate for transformation into a flute instrumental, and we find it wholeheartedly delivers. This track takes its time opening up, allowing each performer a long moment in the sun before coming together to crescendo into awe-inspiring, harmonious peak.
Across this album we find no shortage of excellent song selection, and Leather and Lace is another prime example. Though it of course leans towards the “lace” side of things with its softer approach, the blend of both flutes in the chorus perfectly captures the spirit of the original duet. It’s a balanced and inviting addition to the album, and the novel harmonies in the second half of the track certainly bring the duo’s own musical personality into the mix – a trait that we’ve seen from them time and again.
Each flutist is granted a solo piece on this album, something we’ve not yet seen from the duo before, and it’s a welcome treat to be able to hear each performing exclusively in their own style. First up is Lazzara with the John Denver classic My Sweet Lady. A poetic and heartfelt song in and of itself, Lazzara’s soaring, lofty performance brings the track to life in a refreshingly clear way. Shortly thereafter is Markoff’s rendition of When I Was Your Man. The most modern track on the album, his warm and gentle approach to the melody suit the pining message of the original, and leaving this song as a solo effort allows that particular element of the arrangement to shine.
We also love the rendition of You’re Beautiful by James Blunt as the album closer. In Blunt’s voice, there’s an ever-present emotional tremor that adds so much character to his work, and the flute appears to be the perfect realization of it in instrument form. The track is immediately recognizable, overflowing with the intense somber feeling that permeated the original track, amplified by the angelic voices that only flutes can provide.
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
It’s easy to expect nothing but ballads when dealing with such gorgeous arrangements on delicate instruments, but Markoff & Lazzara surprise us once again with their rendition of Saturday In The Park. This cover maintains all of the original’s bounce and energy and features a handful of very technical passages that make it an extremely fun listen. The layers of sonic texture and movement from all three performers creates an incredible soundscape, and it is no doubt a stand out on a project where it’s incredibly difficult to pick just one track.
Despite all the excellent singles leading up to the release of By Request, the true high points of this project were undoubtedly saved for its full release. This is brilliant, top-tier work from Steve Markoff & Patricia Lazzara, living up to all of our expectations and then some. The immense skill and thought put into each and every one of these compositions is extraordinarily apparent (and perhaps some credit is due to the friends and fans as well for making such excellent song suggestions). For other instrumental duos out there – this is the bar that is set for you. Markoff & Lazzara bring authentic musicality and ingenuity into their work, no doubt delighting their audiences and cementing themselves as a true favorite of The Ark in the process.
BELOW: Listen to By Request and connect with their website and social media platforms. Please support Steve Markoff & Patricia Lazzara by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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