Joanie Pallato & Marshall Vente: Two Again

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Joanie Pallato & Marshall Vente

Two Again

June 6, 2015

Reviewed by Rob Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Joanie-Pallatto-Marshall-Vente-Two-Again-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212If, like me, “Surprise!” is an announcement that delights your ears and mind when you put on a CD of mostly well-known songs, have I got a disc for you. A very creative duo, singer Joanie Pallato and pianist Marshall Vente, take material and turn it inside out and upside down, change tempi and emphasis, and give birth to something new and wondrous. Come to their alternate universe where the title song of The Beatles’ second movie gets Help! to start a new, more mature and poignant life as a slow ballad with more at stake and more ache. Other souvenirs of the 1960s, the spell-casting Mancini/Mercer “Charade,” Bacharach and David’s “Walk On By,” and Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” likewise gain pathos and become psychological studies with intriguing musical choices. The Pallato voice is a rich and warm one, with the singer always sounding involved and musically astute. Vente’s imaginative work weaves in and out of the moods and musical settings with the singer’s work: he’s detailed without excess. In this reunion recording (the “Again” in its title Two Again references their 1997 CD, Two), both shine.

One of the most recorded standards, “My Funny Valentine,” comes out fresh, too—but not due to any revolutionary re-shaping. Instead, it’s one of the simpler arrangements, but it’s sung and played with such dedicated sincerity and ardor that you’ll almost hang on every well-known word.

Now that’s an accomplishment!

A few livelier numbers add variety without being throwaways, but rather endearing pick-me-ups. There are a couple of originals that please, too. The path less taken is also trod when with the Jobim standby “Desafinado,” they opt for the less employed English version of the lyric by Gene Lees. The treatments here command careful attention to their many rewards, with the interpretations always valid and vivid.

Rob Lester

2015 is native New Yorker Rob Lester's eighth year as contributing writer, beginning by reviewing a salute to Frank Sinatra, whose recordings have played on his personal soundtrack since the womb. (His Cabaret Scenes Foundation member mom started him with her favorite; like his dad, he became an uber-avid record collector/ fan of the Great American Songbook's great singers and writers.) Soon, he was attending shows, seeking out up-and-comers and already-came-ups, still reading and listening voraciously. He also writes for and, has been cabaret-centric as awards judge, panel member/co-host, and produces benefit/tribute shows, including one for us.