David Lanz and Gary Stroutsos
2007 / Sound Traveler
Review by Michael Debbage
This project represents a merging of old school David Lanz with the new style and sophistication that he has found via his prior collaboration with Gary Stroutsos on Spirit Romance. Continuing what would appear to be the complicated task of merging classical, Native Indian, musky jazz and mysticism, Lanz and Stroutsos effortlessly continue to express their new and very unique musical voice.
The album is actually a soundtrack of the recent visual delight created by Jan Nickman, a name who should be very familiar to the established David Lanz fan. Nickman previously worked with Lanz back in the eighties when they crafted the video music albums Natural States and Desert Vision. Those of you that may be put off by the word soundtrack thinking that the music is disjointed and ambient will do yourself a disservice should you walk away from exploring this musical adventure. With the exception of “Ancient Voice” that flirts with such effects, the remaining tracks are well structured and extend the themes previously presented on Spirit Romance.
Lanz and Stroutsos bring in the usual suspects with Keith Lowe on bass, Glen Velez on percussion with Jonn Serrie and Gary Lanz on the technical side. New additions and appearances come from Walter Gray on cello and even a string arrangement from Kurt Bestor on “Temple Dance”. It is here where you will hear the elements of both the old and new school as Lanz gracefully explores the entire range of his piano as he flirts with the violin and cello embellishments. Equally as inspiring is the soft dance of Lanz’ piano with Stroutsos’ charming flute work on the title track. Some of you may find this song very familiar and rightfully so as it was initially entitled “Ambient Plains” and first appeared on his serene solo album A Cup of Moonlight.
Otherwise, the album is composed of all new material such as the optimistic opening track “Sun Chasers” that will bring back memories of Narada days. The difference here is the wistful “voice” of Gary as he floats like a butterfly with Lanz’ elegant piano work. “Rio San Rafael” and the majestic “Rain Dancer” continue this bountiful trend. At this point, you will realize this partnership has created another musical landscape that is more than capable of expressing the visual delight that Nickman encapsulates on the DVD counterpart. In both forms, their tribute to America’s magical Southwest is utterly breathtaking.
After playing musical hopscotch over the last few years with the jazzy pizzazz of The Good Life and the contrasting stripped down A Cup of Moonlight, it appears that Lanz and has found a new voice courtesy of his musical “marriage” with Gary Stroutsos. While the recording industry continues to struggle, Lanz and Stroutsos have created another sophisticated stunning success that is also effervescent, vibrant and alive.
July 7, 2007