Tuesday, June 20, 2006

CD Review: Spirit Romance

I recently purchased the album Spirit Romance which was released this last fall by pianist David Lanz and flutist Gary Stroutsos. These guys are two of my favorite new age artists, and I was really excited to hear them together. David Lanz has been in my CD player since I purchased his album "Christophori's Dream" so many years ago.
I fell in love with Gary's music when he visited Northern California 6 years ago and put on an advanced flute workshop and concert for the NCFC. On this album, Gary plays the Chinese bamboo Xiao, an end-blown Chinese flute which has rarely been recorded outside of China or in non-Chinese music. It's mystical sounding flute, and one which I think that you will enjoy.
The album also features Keith Lowe on acoustic bass, keyboardist John Serrie and Glen Velez on hand drums.
Note that Gary Stroutsos will be on stage in No Cal in August 2006 at the INAFA Convention along with Will Clipman, so those of you who attend the convention will be able to hear him live! You can also download a podcast (or listen to the MP3 file on your computer) of an interview with Gary and David on the Mystic Soundscapes internet radio program.

Even though there is no Native American Flute featured on this album, this album gets heavy rotation in my iPod. This is an excellent album for the office or a nice quiet dinner party.
I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

The incredible piano intro in this song simply floats you away. The melody is what I would call “classic David Lanz”, but when combined with Gary’s flute it’s even more entrancing. A classic.

This is a majestic tune which reminds me of a river trip through a primordial rain forest. Drums by Glen Velez accent the tune nicely. This is one of my favorite tunes on the CD.

Between Worlds
This is an ethereal piano tune, a nice relaxing and drifting melody.

Blue Largo
Great back beat on this one. Glen Velez plays the Eqyptian Riq, a tambourine like instrument that I am struggling to master. The Xiao is featured front and center, demonstrating it’s rich tone along side the piano.

Spirit Romance
The flute leads this song from the beginning. The piano dances with the flute, swirling around and around. Violin adds a nice rounding the song. No matter what I am doing, when this song plays, I have to close my eyes and relax for a moment.

The breathy flute intro on this song will steal your heart. Gary exhibits the breadth of sonic possibilities with the Xaio flute on this solo.

A Distant Light
This is my favorite song on the CD. The interplay of piano and flute on this song are in perfect balance. Glen Velez play the Riq, one of my favorite frame drums, in the classical form. John Serrie provides the background. This song and the next four all blend together on one big long journey.

Dreams of Altair, Contemplation, Compassion
These songs features space musician John Serrie, who also played on the original “Wings to Altair” on Christophori’s Dream. On Compassion the solo Xiao, spiced with just enough “space” is a powerful tune. I really like the long notes of the Xiao here.

The Return
The Return brings the suite to closure, and for the David Lanz fans out there, you get a nice hint of the original inspiration of “Wings to Altair”.


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