MARIEANN MERINGOLO
Between Yesterday And Tomorrow
(Blujazz)

 

Song 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 aren’t 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



mwe3.com presents an interview with
Marieann Meringolo


mwe3
: 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 shouldn’t 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. I’m 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 I’m announcing that publicly! And I love the music of the ‘60s ...probably just infused into my cells. At a young age I wasn’t 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 I’m going to sing it and I’m 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 can’t remember a time when I wasn’t 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 didn’t take formal singing lessons and I don’t play an instrument. I actually don’t read music... singing for me is like breathing. When I’m 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 Here’s To The Ladies: A Salute To Great Ladies In Song and in 2009 my holiday album In The Spirit.

I’m 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 I’m there and singing to an audience it’s just amazing!

mwe3: 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 are excellent.

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 Feinstein’s/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 Hamlisch’s “The Way We Were” as an introspective view into the stories told here, so the show became more of a theatrical concert. You can’t help it with their lyrics, they’re 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. He’s 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 it’s great that we can all get our music digitally now but I do love a physical album to hold and read.

mwe3: 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? It’s interesting how they joined forces way back in the 1960s with Michel Legrand, who was primarily an instrumental musiccomposer. It’s also brilliant they’re 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 he’s still alive and they’re 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:

“Dear Marieann

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. What’s 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, it’s like I’m taking my own new journey every single time... that’s 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 I’m 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”?

Marieann 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 Sinatra’s version... but recently heard Barbra Streisand’s 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 you’re 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 I’m 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. I’m drawn to an ethereal/haunting mood that Legrand’s 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. It’s funny I can’t remember the first time I heard that song, but Sting does a cool version of it and so does Dusty Springfield. Here’s 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.

mwe3: 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 I’m so happy that’s 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. I’m grateful it turned out to be the perfect scenario for this album. Other places I have loved performing in NYC are Feinstein’s/54 Below in the Theater District and Joe’s Pub downtown near Aster Place. I do perform out of Manhattan and now that I’m 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. I’m 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, you’ll 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. I’ve 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 world.

mwe3: 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 your music?

Marieann Meringolo: Right now I’m booked at Beach Cafe on July 28th on the Upper East Side in NYC and I’ll be featured in the annual Cabaret Convention on October 11th at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I’m in the process of booking more dates for the fall and my annual holiday show, “In the Spirit” is slated for December 1st at Feinstein’s/54 Below. As far as my next album goes, I’m waiting to see what that might be, so stay tuned. But when it happens my feeling is it will be a studio recording…



 

 
   
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