Sacred Road Revisited
2006 / Narada
Review by Michael Debbage
As Narada continues to scale back its operations they are currently focusing on their successful yesterdays by dressing up their back catalog. Specifically, they gave Michael Jones’s Pianoscapes the royal treatment back in 2002. Now David Lanz’s 1996 Sacred Road has been given a 10th Anniversary makeover appropriately titled Sacred Road Revisited. Despite its new adorning it feels like an old comfy chair that engulfs you in its warmth and charm all over again.
But let’s digress a little and go even further back to 1990 which saw the release of Lanz’s bold epic Skyline Firedance. Fully orchestrated, it was a brilliant way to follow up his mega seller predecessor Cristofori’s Dream that was released only 2 years earlier. What to do next? Lanz wisely lay low and waited 6 years before he followed up with completely new solo material that came in the form of Sacred Road. Following those two mega monsters has always placed Sacred Road in somewhat of a shadow when in reality it was once again David Lanz doing what he does best; pouring out his heart and soul at the keyboard. Yet David took the best of both worlds combining solo efforts and orchestrated embellishments creating one of his more overlooked gems.
Sacred Road album was initially composed and rehearsed as solo piano pieces. Then David, and producer Paul Speer, collaborated with the orchestration and embellishments and presented the original master recordings to Narada Records. As it turned out the label wanted the tapes remixed with the piano even more prominent. David and Paul complied and the second remix is what you heard in the 1996 Sacred Road production. Neither the original form nor mix has ever seen the light of day until now courtesy of Sacred Road Revisited.
The first seven tracks of Sacred Road Revisited are essentially Sacred Road unplugged, including an alternative demo of the solo piano track “A Path With Heart”. The second portion of the Sacred Road Revisited is the original master recordings that David and Paul presented to Narada Records first time around. While the changes in the mix were not blatant the adjustments and nuances will attract completists. However, the greatest pleasure comes from hearing the tracks in their naked unplugged form strongly supporting that it is not the embellishments that are the essence of a David Lanz composition.
To add to the thrill of piano purists, Lanz closes out the album with the previously unreleased improvisational “And The Road Goes On”. So does Sacred Road courtesy of this revisit pointing out that the success and heartbeat of this pianist comes in the simple unadulterated pure form that makes Lanz stand head and shoulder above his peers.
June 6, 2006