Marcus Simeone—his voice goes so far beyond good, his vocal easeseemingly so naturally produced, his oft times extraordinary sonic indulgences so multiplistic, that one is tempted to suspect him of practicing musical dark arts for his lyrical involvement, with more lyric awareness than ever.

After a double bubble opening of a believer’s gospel, ”Many Rivers to Cross” (Jimmy Cliff), and the impressively amped-up ”A Change Is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke), Simeone shape-shifts—with “change” being the magic word—into a coupling of a scatty- sounding ”There’ll Be Some Changes Made Today” (Billy Higgins/W. Benton Overstreet/ Herbert Evans) and a freestyle “Getting to Know You” (Rodgers & Hammerstein), then to a smoothly bluesy “You’ve Changed” (Bill Carey & Carl Fischer). All this alchemy is accom- panied by appropriate shares of a pinch of subtle to a dash of satisfying shoulder-shuddering piano pounding by Barry Levitt (also ar-ranger and co-produ-cer), joined throughout the heady brew (ha ha) by nicely featured Morrie Louden’s bass and Jack Cavari’s guitar.

Presto change-o, for the second half of the hocus-pocus! Two tunes into one twice: “Road Ode”/”Home Again” (Gary Sims & Dan Woodhams/Carole King) and “Since You Stayed Here”/”I Haven’t Changed the Room” (Peter Larson, Josh Rubins/Barry Manilow)—both second songs first rate. Separated by  “Everything Must Change“ (Bernard Ighner) (so all in love is fairish), is “Be Aware” and as epilogue, “I Just Have to Breathe” (both Burt Bacharach & Hal David), might just leave you breathless.

Ladies and gentlemen, Marcus Simeone. Might I remind you this program was recorded live at the Metropolitan Room. Most singers couldn’t sound like this in a recording studio.

To paraphrase Nina Simone: he’ll put a spell on you.

Noah Tree
Cabaret Scenes
November 2010