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Album Review: Spirit Romance
David Lanz and Gary Stroutsos
Cover image of the album Spirit Romance by David Lanz and Gary Stroutsos
Spirit Romance
David Lanz and Gary Stroutsos
2005 / Narada
49 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Spirit Romance is David Lanz’s first album of new material on Narada since 1998. Since then, he has recorded several albums on Decca and one independently, the most recent of which was a smooth jazz album that confused the heck out of a lot of his longtime fans. Anyone who has seen Lanz in concert knows that he can play just about any style of music, but many fans didn’t want him to deviate from the beautiful, romantic music he is so well-known for. Lanz has been one of the most influential artists in the “new age piano” genre, and Spirit Romance, takes him back to those roots while still moving in a slightly different direction. This new music isn’t as structured or melodic as some of his earlier work, but this is my favorite Lanz album in quite some time. However, Spirit Romance isn’t just David Lanz, but a collaboration between himself and flutist Gary Stroutsos. They improvised most of this music in Lanz’s new old house, with David’s brother, Gary Lanz, at the helm as engineer and producer. Some of the tracks feature Jonn Serrie working his ambient space magic in the background; the title track features Swil Kanim on violin; and a few tracks feature Keith Lowe on acoustic bass and Glen Velez on acoustic percussion, but it’s mostly just flute and piano. What a magical sound! The freedom of improvisation creates a sense of deep intimacy and spiritual connection. Stroutsos played several different flutes on this recording, but used the Xiao flute, which is rarely heard outside of China, most often. Older than the Japanese bamboo flute, this instrument has a haunting, deeply spiritual quality that is perfect for this kind of music. What kind of music is it? There are a lot of recognizable Lanz touches, but this music is quite different from his other recordings. Lanz has occasionally been criticized for being too pop-oriented, but I don’t think there was any thought of commercialization in the making of Spirit Romance. The exotic flutes and percussion instruments bring a strong Eastern flavor to the music, while the piano and string bass merge with a more Western sensibility, creating a universality of spirit that is intriguing, soothing, and very satisfying. In short, I LOVE this album! It is available at davidlanz.com, garystroutsos.com. and at online and retail outlets everywhere Narada’s albums are sold. Very highly recommended!
September 22, 2005
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Kathy's Favorites: 2005
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