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Album Review: A Cup of Moonlight
David Lanz
Cover image of the album A Cup of Moonlight by David Lanz
A Cup of Moonlight
David Lanz
2006 / SoundTraveler
46 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
A Cup of Moonlight is a newly remastered and revised version of David Lanz’s independent 2003 solo piano release by the same name. The stunning cover artwork by David Louis Quinn is only the beginning. Two additional songs that were recorded in 2006, a warmer piano sound, and some interesting edits to the existing songs make this truly a “new and improved” CD. All of the previous pieces have been shortened by as little as a few seconds to the 6 1/2 minute reduction of Lanz’s meditation piece, “Heaven and Earth,” which was seventeen minutes long on the first album. David Lanz and flautist Gary Stroutsos, his collaborator on the 2005 Narada release, “Spirit Romance,” have joined forces and created the new SoundTraveler label; this is one of their first releases.

“Lover’s Tarot,” one of my favorite tracks, is classic Lanz - a strong, flowing, bittersweet melody combines with a catchy rhythm and is played with deep emotion. “The Butterfly” is also easy to identify as a Lanz composition. The other four original composed (as opposed to improvised) pieces are a bit more abstract and, well, artistic, for lack of a better word. Those who felt that Lanz was becoming too commercial on his Decca releases will love this music. Playing from the heart is what Lanz does best, and that’s what this album is about. The title track is stunningly beautiful - very spare, but passionate, with lots of open space. All of these pieces are gentle and introspective, yet deeply emotional - some of Lanz’ best work, I think.

“Ambient Plains” is one of the two new tracks. The openness and spareness of the piece give a very peaceful feeling and suggest vast open spaces. The piece also serves as a tribute to two influences on Lanz’s music, George Winston and Floyd Cramer - beautiful and very evocative. “Along the Garden Wall” is the other new piece. Extraordinary in its quiet simplicity and introspection, it was inspired by the overwhelming emotions Lanz experienced while visiting the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. “Taps” is woven into the fabric of the piece, honoring those who lost their lives as well as the loved ones left behind. It is fitting that the CD concludes with “Heaven and Earth,” a piece built on a seven-note sequence that Lanz calls the “angel scale.” Sequences and variations on the theme evolve over the course of the piece, creating a musical meditation for stress relief and healing.

Even if you have a copy of the earlier Cup of Moonlight, I highly recommend this newer version. With his new label, David Lanz has full control of his music and is free to explore in new directions - a very good thing for his artistry and for us, his fans! A Cup of Moonlight is available from davidlanz.com, cdbaby.com, and soundtraveler.net. Recommended!
January 31, 2007
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