Painting the Sun
The master new age piano pioneer took a cool and rhythmic detour in the early 2000s, working with some top smooth jazz stars to create a spirited, radio-friendly hybrid he playfully referred to as "smooth age." After returning to his roots (and his original label, Narada) with the atmospheric Spirit Romance, his 2005 dual project with flutist Gary Stroutsos, Lanz, on his beautiful and impressionistic Shanachie debut Painting the Sun, comes full-circle back to the elegant and contemplative (but still engagingly melodic) solo piano vibe that launched his career 25 years earlier. His original idea for the album title was "A Time for Peace," but taking a walk around his Seattle area home on a sunny spring day found him looking up and thinking about the artistic spirit of one's soul and energy--which is what has always emerged in his deepest musings throughout his career. Beyond the eloquently stated originals (highlighted by the hypnotic title track, the highly improvisational "Spanish Blue," a thoughtful "Hymn," and the dark toned, moody "Evening Song"), Lanz mines the familiar ground of his musical influences as he covers the Pete Seeger-composed Byrds classic "Turn Turn Turn." This lush reading continues in the whimsical spirit of his 1998 British Invasion tribute Songs from an English Garden. Lanz did well crossing over with smooth audiences, but this long-awaited project makes it clear that he expresses his truest heart when he's sitting at the piano channeling heavenly inspiration.