Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara “(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight”

Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara’s creative partnership began in an unusual way. The pair initially forged their relationship based on a teacher/pupil connection when Markoff approached Lazzara looking for flute instruction. Their association soon blossomed into an artistic union that has paid enormous aesthetic dividends for both musicians. “(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight” is a meditative and melodic cover of Cutting Crew’s 1986 smash that, if nothing else, validates the worthiness of the original.


I’ve heard it said that stripping away the gloss, bells, and whistles from a track and playing it on an acoustic guitar tests its ultimate value. Markoff and Lazzara’s unlikely adaptation of a pop classic highlights the bedrock melodic virtues setting this apart from far more commonplace fare. Being an instrumental won’t rate as a drawback for listeners. Lazzara and Markoff’s flute playing essentially replaces the lack of any singer and strikes a different mood than we hear in the original.

The pair are joined by Allison Brewster Franzetti’s piano playing. Her Julliard polish never mars the meticulous eloquence of her lines; she maintains a consistent balance between technical skill and emotion. There’s a slightly whispy, not quite nailed down feeling to this track as if a mild breeze may blow it away. Her work on the piano helps tether it to earth.

Naysayers may label Markoff and Lazzara’s output as mood music. Superficial evaluations such as that miss the measured evolution of this track, the light orchestration accentuating its dynamics, and the pastoral colors rife throughout the song. There is impressive artistry and forethought guiding this track; the musicians are clearly immersed in delivering as accurate a representation of the original as possible but in a completely different context.

The obvious care and attention lavished on the performance, however, never makes it a dry and/or humorous affair. Lazzara and Markoff’s musical partnership invokes soothing gentleness throughout the piece that radiates warmth. It’s poetry in a different language. They honor the structure of Cutting Crew’s original version while incorporating their own variations and accommodating, as they must, needed changes given the instrumentation and lack of vocals.

It’s safe to say songwriter Nick Van Eade never envisioned his pop classic ever recast in such a way. It’s unlikely he would disapprove. How could anyone bemoan the fate of a song designed, by its nature, to be a disposable confection returns over thirty years later in such a re-envisioned form? The participants’ capacity for reimaging the song finds possibilities where others may have only discovered nostalgia. It may invoke memories for some but, for many, it is a new song.

It’s unlikely the duo will view this as a profitable new sideline – recording revamped pop classics with their flute playing leading the way. It is different, in some respects, from their earlier fare because it’s an adaptation but nonetheless fits in quite well with the rest of the duo’s work. It possesses all the compositional excellence in evidence on their earlier material while casting a wider net than ever before.

Chadwick Easton

The music of Steve Markoff and Patricia Lazzara has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division.  Learn more


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