lyricists Alan & Marilyn Bergman are front and center on a new
for 2018 Blujazz release by cabaret pop-jazz vocalist Marieann
Meringolo. Featuring 13 tracks Between Yesterday And Tomorrow:
The Songs Of Alan & Marilyn Bergman was recorded live
at the world famous Iridium nightclub in NYC on August 13, 2017. Backing
Ms. Meringolo are the expert piano skills and musical direction of
Doyle Newmyer and the rhythm section of Boots Maleson (bass)
and Sipho Kunene (drums). With its intimate setting, the
Iridium nightclub works well for the jazzy cabaret sound of Marieann
Meringolo. The choice of music presented here is perfect too, as tracks
like The Way We Were and Nice And Easy feature
some of the most iconic song lyrics ever written for mainstream pop
vocal music. The CD features extensive liner notes by Ms. Meringolo
and jazz musicologist Will Friedwald who correctly points out
that the Bergmans always co-wrote their songs with some of the finest
pop melodicists including Marvin Hamlisch, Michel Legrand, Johnny
Mandel and Lew Spence, to name just a few. With the album slanted
towards the song classics written by the Bergmans and Michel Legrand,
jazz-pop fans arent going to complain while comparisons are
already made between Ms. Meringolo and classic pop singers like Barbara
Streisand. Between Yesterday And Tomorrow: The Songs Of Alan &
Marilyn Bergman is the perfect album to shine a light on some
of the most famous song classics of all time. www.marieannmeringolo.com
presents an interview with
Tell us something about growing up in New York and what music were
you exposed to early on. Were you lucky enough to grow up in the 1960s
although you might be too young, or maybe I shouldnt ask. Who
were your big influences musically and/or otherwise and were you more
influenced by songwriters rather than singers and bands? Your label,
Blujazz are truly rocking this year.
Marieann Meringolo: I loved growing up in NY. Im originally
from Long Island but my grandparents lived in Brooklyn and when I
would visit and stay with them, I felt more like a city kid than a
suburban one. So when I had the chance at 23 I moved to NYC. I just
love the energy here and feel it will be my home forever... although
a nice beach house would be great! Growing up my father was always
playing music in our house and my early influences were Frank Sinatra,
Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Sergio Mendez & Brasil 66
was one of my favorite albums, and Broadway show tunes. I was born
in 1964, first time Im announcing that publicly! And I love
the music of the 60s ...probably just infused into my cells.
At a young age I wasnt paying attention to who the writers were...
just if the music made me feel good! Now I focus on the lyrics of
a song and the message it gives to me and my audience. But, it also
needs an inspiring melody attached to it if Im going to sing
it and Im excited to be on the BluJazz Label, allowing me to
reach wider audiences.
mwe3: How long have you been singing and did you take singing
/ vocal lessons and study other instruments? How long have you been
recording and how many albums have you released and would you say
that you're more comfortable in the studio or on stage?
Marieann Meringolo: Singing came naturally to me and I cant
remember a time when I wasnt singing. My 3rd grade teacher wrote
in my report card Marieann has a beautiful voice, we should
encourage this. I guess what she wrote made an impression on
me because I still remember it! I didnt take formal singing
lessons and I dont play an instrument. I actually dont
read music... singing for me is like breathing. When Im learning
a song, I work on it with my musical director Doyle Newmyer. We find
a key and he plays me a piano track that I can rehearse with to find
my way in the song organically. My first album Hold Me Close
was released in 1997, my second one Imagine... If We Only Have
Love in 2004. In 2007 I released my CD/DVD Heres To The
Ladies: A Salute To Great Ladies In Song and in 2009 my holiday
album In The Spirit.
Im more relaxed in a recording studio because I know I can
always do another take, and hours could go by but it never feels that
way. Nothing compares to the thrill of a live performance. I do get
nervous before going out on stage but, once Im there and singing
to an audience its just amazing!
Tell us about the band you perform with on your 2018 Blujazz CD called
Between Yesterday And Tomorrow and how you worked on the album
with the creative team of Doyle Newmyer and your director Will Nunziata.
Was everyone involved in choosing the songs and working out the arrangements
and deciding on the CD packaging? The whole Between
Yesterday And Tomorrow
album packaging is quite appealing looking and the CD liner notes
Marieann Meringolo: The album was a show before it became a
live recording. I thought I would eventually get into the recording
studio to make this album but the opportunity presented itself at
The Iridium to do it live. We had performed the show four times before
at Feinsteins/54 Below and the energy that came from the audience
was very inspiring so that became a big incentive to do it live. When
I first had the idea to make a show out of the Bergman catalog I needed
a director to help me map it out. So I called Will Nunziata and he
said yes and was onboard right away. He gave me a 4 CD set of their
songs to listen to, to help choose what would be included. I already
had an idea of what I wanted to sing because of a previous Michel
Legrand show I had put together in 2012.
But, focusing in on their lyrics gave me more of an opportunity to
weave in a story/journey. And together, Will and I decided to use
Marvin Hamlischs The Way We Were as an introspective
view into the stories told here, so the show became more of a theatrical
concert. You cant help it with their lyrics, theyre too
important to just sing them. So, I would have my meetings with Will
and separate rehearsals with my musical director Doyle Newmyer, where
he would come up with his gorgeous arrangements.
Then the three of us would get together to put it all together, later
adding Boots Maleson on bass and Sipho Kunene on drums to make what
is now on the recording. The liner notes by Will Friedwald came about
because he wrote a great review of my Michel Legrand show in the Wall
Street Journal back in 2012, so I thought he would be the perfect
writer to contribute to this project. Hes such a respected writer
and music historian so I was thrilled when he agreed to be onboard.
As far as the packaging, my long time friend and graphic designer
Frank Dain came up with the colors and design. I gave him the photos
and how I envisioned them laid out and he did his beautiful magic.
I think its great that we can all get our music digitally now
but I do love a physical album to hold and read.
What else inspired you to record a complete album featuring the songs
with the lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman? When did you first discover
their lyrics? Its interesting how they joined forces way back
in the 1960s with Michel Legrand, who was primarily an instrumental
musiccomposer. Its also brilliant theyre both still alive
including Michel Legrand, too. Were any of them lucky enough to hear
your tribute album to them all? Amazing Alan is 93 now yet hes
still alive and theyre all out on the coast?
Marieann Meringolo: I first discovered their music before I
even knew it was their songs while watching the movie Yentl. I
was in love with the songs and later put it all together when I heard
Johnny Mathis' tribute to the Bergmans. The first song I recorded
of theirs was Something New In My Life", for my Imagine...
If We Only Have Love CD back in 2003. I did send Alan &
Marilyn my CD and this is the note I received from them:
Thank you for sending us your beautiful project in the beautiful packaging!
And, you couldn't get a better writer than Will Friedwald to write
the liner notes. We send you the best of luck for your show
on the 29th. We wish we were there tonight to hear this wonderful
CD in person. We're sure it will be a terrific night!
All our best,
Alan and Marilyn Bergman
It was so amazing to receive that note from them. Praying I get
to meet them in person! I was first inspired to record a complete
album of their music after the show was up and running. The reaction
from the reviews and audiences were so positive that I wanted to capture
that energy so it would be able to live on forever, and I felt these
special songs with these arrangements would translate and could be
captured on a recording.
mwe3: Why did you choose the song title of Between Yesterday
And Tomorrow as the album title? Seems fitting and philosophical
sounding. Whats been the reaction to the album among your fans
and radio and press too?
Marieann Meringolo: Between Yesterday and Tomorrow
is one of the songs on the album, sandwiched with The Windmills
of Your Mind. I chose it as the title because in my opinion
it sums up the journey of the album. There is so much more than what
we see in life... so much deeper than the surface, and the lyrics
of that song I believe express that sentiment beautifully. In fact,
every time I sing that song or any of their songs for that matter,
its like Im taking my own new journey every single time...
thats how deep their lyrics are. You can never get to the bottom
of them, just like life, there is always something new to discover.
And Im so grateful to say that the reaction from fans and critics
and radio has been a unanimous rave! Really a dream come true reaction.
mwe3: How far back in time do the songs on Between Yesterday
And Tomorrow go back? Nice n Easy goes
way back to 1960. Do you consider these songs, pop, jazz or orchestral
torch songs, or all of the above? Do you have a favorite version of
Nice n Easy?
Meringolo: In my research and to my surprise I found That
Face was first released in 1957 by Fred Astaire! These songs
are timeless and so versatile and can easily fit into any of the above
mentioned genres depending on their arrangements. I would say my favorite
is Sinatras version... but recently heard Barbra Streisands
and loved that too!
mwe3: How about I Was Born In Love With You? When
did you first hear that one and whose version inspired you most and
what made you choose to cover that song?
Marieann Meringolo: I believe it was the Johnny Mathis version
that I heard it first sung. But it was the Maureen McGovern version
that inspired me to want to sing it. Again, their lyrics take one
to a deep place if youre willing to go there. I am a hopeless
romantic and believe that we have had past lives and that our soul
goes on after we pass on in this life. So, I love delving into that
idea when I sing that song.
mwe3: Would you say The Way We Were is the most
famous song on your CD? How would you compare the way the Bergmans
worked with Legrand and then, with Marvin Hamlisch? Is The Way
We Were one of the classic New York songs on the CD? Was it
written in New York?
Marieann Meringolo: Yes, I would say that it is the most famous
song on my CD and for sure a classic! But Im not sure of the
history of where it was written, or how Bergmans worked together to
compare between Hamlisch and Legrand but I do feel especially fond
of the Bergman/Legrand collaboration. Im drawn to an ethereal/haunting
mood that Legrands writing creates.
mwe3: Do you associate a lot of this music with the movies
that they often accompanied? For instance Windmills Of Your
Mind is always remembered as being featured in The Thomas
Crown Affair. Interesting that Henry Mancini recommended Legrand
to do the soundtrack. Do you have a favorite version of Windmills
and are you a movie soundtrack fan?
Marieann Meringolo: Even though The Windmills Of Your
Mind is from The Thomas Crown Affair, I learned it long
before I saw the movie. Its funny I cant remember the
first time I heard that song, but Sting does a cool version of it
and so does Dusty Springfield. Heres my interpretation: For
me the song represents a person who has just gone through a romantic
breakup showing how thoughts, memories and emotions can consume us
making us run in tortured circles. And, yes I do love movie soundtracks.
Some favorites are Metropolis by Giorgio Moroder, The Tempest
arranged by Stomu Yamashta, Moulin Rouge and of course Yentl.
What was it like recording at the Iridium nightclub in New York and
what about other favorite places to perform in New York? Do you perform
only in Manhattan?
Marieann Meringolo: The Iridium is a great club to perform
in. Recording my show, there was a great choice and Im so happy
thats where we did it! The club provided their recording engineer
Lance McVickar. We had never worked together before so it involved
a lot of trust on my part since this was my one and only shot to capture
the live recording. Im grateful it turned out to be the perfect
scenario for this album. Other places I have loved performing in NYC
are Feinsteins/54 Below in the Theater District and Joes
Pub downtown near Aster Place. I do perform out of Manhattan and now
that Im with BluJazz, they are working on getting me bookings
around the country.
mwe3: Are you mostly inspired by jazz singers as well as pop
and rock vocalists and cabaret and Broadway style pop vocals? What
do you think of the current music scene in New York, and what do you
listen to mostly?
Marieann Meringolo: The music I listen to is eclectic and depends
on my mood. Im moved by music that moves me emotionally and
I lean towards jazz, cabaret and Broadway vocalists. Living in NYC
is great for the music scene... yes, unfortunately some clubs have
closed but there are still lots of choices to keep busy any night
of the week and if you want it, youll find it.
mwe3: I read about your philosophy on your web site about being
put here to share our gifts with the world. That was inspiring to
read. What else inspires your philosophical side and do you meditate
or have some practice session or therapy / advice that helps you deal
with challenging times?
Marieann Meringolo: I practice "A Course In Miracles"
and listen regularly to Marianne Williamson lectures. Ive also
been a member of Unity of N.Y. and sing with the inspirational singing
group Spiritus since 1999. I found Unity when I was looking for a
spiritual outlet to express my singing. All those practices help me
stay grounded in truth in what can seem to sometimes be a pretty unsettling
So with the release of Between Yesterday And Tomorrow out now
on Blujazz, what plans do you have for the rest of 2018? Have you
thought about another album next year and would you consider going
back into the studio or is the live concert stage the best to record
Marieann Meringolo: Right now Im booked at Beach Cafe
on July 28th on the Upper East Side in NYC and Ill be featured
in the annual Cabaret Convention on October 11th at Jazz at Lincoln
Center. Im in the process of booking more dates for the fall
and my annual holiday show, In the Spirit is slated for
December 1st at Feinsteins/54 Below. As far as my next album
goes, Im waiting to see what that might be, so stay tuned. But
when it happens my feeling is it will be a studio recording