The Good Life
2004 / Decca Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
The first thing I have to say about The Good Life is that it is not a “typical” David Lanz album. Lanz’s releases of the past several years have contained some smooth jazz tracks along with his soulful, inward-looking piano pieces, but The Good Life is a collection of fun, jazzy collaborations with other artists. I have been a fan of Lanz’s music since the beginning of his recording career, and teach his music to my students more than that of any other composer,but if I hadn’t known in advance that The Good Life was a major change of direction in Lanz’s music, I think I would have thought someone had sent me the wrong CD. That said, I find this recording to be very enjoyable, and a spirited sense of fun prevails throughout the album. A few years ago, I had the amazing experience of watching David Lanz and Kevin Kern (another artist not often associated with jazz!) improvise a couple of piano duets on the spot, blowing everyone present away. So, why not? Lanz suggests that this CD is a perfect antidote to our troubled world, and he could be right. Probably Lanz’s most commercial recording to date, the music is catchy, light, and dances around with a big grin on its face. Lanz is joined by Jeff Lorber and Greg Karukas on keyboards, Eric Marienthal and Michael Paulo on sax, and a full band of bass, drums, horns, guitar, and percussion. Six of the ten tracks were composed by David Lanz, and the other four are collaborations.
The concept for The Good Life came about as Lanz was “musing” at the piano on one of his musical heroes, jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi. “Sorry Charlie,” a lighthearted toe-tapper, was the first track composed. Lanz had so much fun doing this and hearing the results played back that he decided to continue in this vein. I like “Kal-E-Fornia” a lot, with its easy piano groove, funky horns and guitar, and free spirit. “Fool’s Magic” is another favorite, with its contrasting styles that alternate a smooth and rhythmic melody and a power-driven chorus. The closing track, “A Song For Helen,” is more “classic” Lanz than the rest of the album, and is a song written in honor of his mom, full of warmth and love.
David Lanz has a very long history of releasing spiritual, romantic music, and I think he has wanted to do an album like this for a long time. Some folks will be demanding to know where the aliens took their favorite Sensitive New Age Guy, but I think Lanz will reach a whole new audience with The Good Life, and will probably get a lot more radio play with it. Taking the music as it is intended, it would be a great party album (with or without other people!), so kick off your shoes, pour yourself a cool one, and enjoy!
August 6, 2004