BWW CD Reviews: HERE COMES THE SUN, A Lovely Tribute to the Beatles by David Lanz and Friends
Pianist David Lanz, with able assistance from Gary Stroutsos (woodwinds), Walter Gray (cello) and Keith Lowe (bass), has put together a sequel of sorts to his wonderful album of Beatles songs, Liverpool, with a new collection called Here Comes the Sun. This time around he includes a terrific cut from the quiet Beatle, the late George Harrison (who was/is actually my favorite of the fab four). It's another masterpiece of subtlety and charm, perhaps even more lovely from than the first. Lanz is going to promote the new work with a small tour, so be sure to catch him live if you have the opportunity.
The CD kicks off with an original piece that acts to set the overall mood, “Prelude: Sunrise Follows Moon”. Then the title tune itself is realized in a rather magical way, replacing most of the older electronic Moog synthesizer sounds from the original recording with acoustic accompaniment. It's a great start, and the fun is just beginning. Lanz has familiarized himself to the nth degree with this music, and his variations and arrangements are delicate, but assured, and easily digestible for a huge Beatles fan like myself. In fact, I kept thinking that this was the kind of instrumental versions that should have been out when they were still a viable act, because they make those that were released pale in comparison. I mean, some of them were just muzak, but Lanz's CDs are pure music that I think the lads from Liverpool would have taken great notice of and appreciated.
Lanz chooses selections from throughout the Beatles catalog (from “Please, Please Me” to “Penny Lane”), but his re-imaginings make them all seem fresh again. Perhaps, this is due to the way he sometimes twists the melodies, or plays the harmony instead, or maybe it's just his beautifully nuanced playing that brings it all together so successfully. My favorite, other than the title track, is “I Am the Walrus”, if only because this gives the entire group a chance to shine and play off one another in such a delightful and memorable fashion. It's a psychedelic masterpiece in the hands of the Beatles, but it's a stately, elegant work that flows like butter in the hands of these keen musicians. Lanz closes the album with “Sir George (Liverpool Farewell)”, paying a fitting tribute to the man (George Martin) who produced the original recordings.
I can only hope David changes his mind and issues another collection of the Fab Four's music, but if we're only left with this pair, we still have something that's gorgeous and lasting.