Marcus Simeone: Together

| August 4, 2016

Marcus Simeone


August 3, 2016

(Miranda Music)

Reviewed by John Hoglund for Cabaret Scenes

Marcus-Simeone-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212One of the challenges facing performers is to find ways of making their material sound fresh. The American Songbook is abundant with extraordinary things to choose from. After recording several well-received albums, Marcus Simeone’s Together on the Miranda Music label pairs him with some of cabaret’s popular female singers on some inspired recasting of well-known and lesser-known songs. The material and singers display a confident ability at re-imagining some that reveal deep meanings and a latent emotional current that comes to light when dislodged from their original contexts. The results add another jewel to his crown and the CD is a solid balancing act that is, at once, dicey and compelling.  

By their nature, compilation CDs are a mixed bag. To succeed, like a good cabaret act, the artists must connect with the right selection. It’s that simple. On this potpourri of great songs, the arrow hit its mark. Simeone sings on all the cuts, each with a different lady and then there are two gents. Much has been said about his unique voice. So, how does he fare with his musical partners? Just fine. Particular standouts include: Lina Koutrakos in a smoky duet on “Your Precious Love”; Karen Oberlin, tender with Simeone, fusing “With a Song in My Heart” and “Without a Song”; and Stacy Sullivan on “All Around the World,” which soars. Another entry pairs him with Marissa Mulder—a West Side Story combination of “I Have a Love” and “One Hand, One Heart”—that is one of the strongest cuts. On a more soulful note, “I Am Free” is an ebullient cut with Emilie Surtees. The only instrumental duet is with Sean Harkness on “Caught Up in the Rapture” that creates blissful sounds with guitar and voice. Hilary Kole is outstanding on a heartfelt arrangement of “Beyond Myself,” with Simeone blending flawlessly.

To lighten the mood, there’s a lively duet with Sue Matsuki on a medley of “It’s All Right with Me” and “Them There Eyes” that sounds like a cut from an MGM musical with Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby. Other artists on the disc are Kathleen France, Maria Ottavia, and a sweet little bonus ditty that features his partner Greg Kay Jones on “Just Remember” that ties it all together on a nostalgic note.

Exceptional musical direction and arrangements are by Tracy Stark, with Marco Brehm on bass and David Silliman on drums.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: CD Reviews, Music, New York City, New York City Music Reviews, Regional

Comments are closed.

Read previous post:
Ilene Graff and Ben Lanzarone Band: It’s Better with a Band

Ilene Graff sounds agelessly swell.