A cup of moonlight

Originally released back in 2003 via the David Lanz website, why would one of the major labels not release this splendid piece of “sweet melancholy”? Is it indicative of the current condition of the New Age market? Their loss as this repackaging not only represents some of Lanz’s most intimate recordings that he has composed from 1999 thru 2006 but it is also the one of the debuts on the new label Sound Traveler.

The original version included seven tracks that are all included here as well as the still lengthy improvisational track "Heaven And Earth". Despite taking about 7 minutes off the 17 minute track the new 10 minute version still has plenty of room to meander and breathe. It is probably not the highlight of the album as this format is better imparted by Lanz's former Narada label mate Michael Jones. Still, it is wonderful to hear David experiment and venture out.

The remainder of the album is the pure romanticism that his fans have come to love and adore. Some of the tracks may already sound familiar as they have already been made available as downloads on his website. One of the tracks that did appear on his site in the past is the fluttering and flirtatious "Butterfly". This is Lanz at his best allowing his music to live and play out its title. As he flitters over his keys softly one can only imagine the beautiful colors of a weightless butterfly floating gently in the soft breeze.

Meanwhile, there is the very bare title track "A Cup Of Moonlight" that physically and musically falls somewhere between the more accessible "Butterfly" and the roaming "Heaven And Earth". But if you are wanting the more overstated there is the gorgeous classical influenced opening track "Lover's Tarot" and "A Song Of Soul" that are geared more to the Cristofori's Dream era. And what a commercial and critical success that album was. In contrast, there is "In Stillness" that is more placid and would fit more with Lanz's very early recordings.

For those of you that are thinking twice about purchasing the cd the repackaging includes extensive liner notes from Lanz sharing about the origin of each composition. Better yet there are two new songs, the first being “Ambient Plains” that pays a fitting tribute to George Winston. On a more somber note “Along The Garden Wall” pays homage to the soldiers lost in the Vietnam War with an appropriate incorporation of “Taps”.

Whether the above is persuasive enough or not the most important factor is that A Cup Of Moonlight represents one of the first albums on Lanz and Gary Stroutsos’ brand new label Sound Traveler thus circumventing the restrictions that a big label may present. If you simply missed it first time around and his prior smooth jazz adventure The Good Life was not your cup of tea then brew up A Cup Of Moonlight and sip slowly and gently...it is good to the last drop and will truly quench your thirst.

Review by Mike Debbage
Solo Piano Publiations

A CUP OF MOONLIGHT certainly proves one thing - David Lanz is at his best when he goes solo. Added strings of smooth jazz textures do sometimes add a greater sense of romance to his elegant melodies, but when all the excess is stripped away and the real Lanz shows, it's magic. The album is easily his most pensive and subtle to date, with cascading piano that's like comfort food for the ears. For example, on the track "Ambient Plains," Lanz takes a spacious, almost zen-like approach to the melody, where every note feels like it has a purpose. Others, like "A Song of Soul" and "True Nature" display Lanz's compositional prowess with light, reflective melodies. Put this album on when you want to hear something that will relax you. - Music Design In Review


A Cup of Moonlight is a newly remastered and revised version of David Lanz’s independent 2003 solo piano release by the same name. The stunning cover artwork by David Louis Quinn is only the beginning. Two additional songs that were recorded in 2006, a warmer piano sound, and some interesting edits to the existing songs make this truly a “new and improved” CD. All of the previous pieces have been shortened by as little as a few seconds to the 6 1/2 minute reduction of Lanz’s meditation piece, “Heaven and Earth,” which was seventeen minutes long on the first album. David Lanz and flautist Gary Stroutsos, his collaborator on the 2005 Narada release, “Spirit Romance,” have joined forces and created the new SoundTraveler label; this is one of their first releases.

“Lover’s Tarot,” one of my favorite tracks, is classic Lanz - a strong, flowing, bittersweet melody combines with a catchy rhythm and is played with deep emotion.  “The Butterfly” is also easy to identify as a Lanz composition. The other four original composed (as opposed to improvised) pieces are a bit more abstract and, well, artistic, for lack of a better word. Those who felt that Lanz was becoming too commercial on his Decca releases will love this music. Playing from the heart is what Lanz does best, and that’s what this album is about. The title track is stunningly beautiful - very spare, but passionate, with lots of open space. All of these pieces are gentle and introspective, yet deeply emotional - some of Lanz’s best work, I think.

“Ambient Plains” is one of the two new tracks. The openness and spareness of the piece give a very peaceful feeling and suggest vast open spaces. The piece also serves as a tribute to two influences on Lanz’s music, George Winston and Floyd Cramer - beautiful and very evocative. “Along the Garden Wall” is the other new piece. Extraordinary in its quiet simplicity and introspection, it was inspired by the overwhelming emotions Lanz experienced while visiting the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. “Taps” is woven  into the fabric of the piece, honoring those who lost their lives as well as the loved ones left behind. It is fitting that the CD concludes with “Heaven and Earth,” a piece built on a seven-note sequence that Lanz calls the “angel scale.” Sequences and variations on the theme evolve over the course of the piece, creating a musical meditation for stress relief and healing.

Even if you have a copy of the earlier “A Cup of Moonlight,” I highly recommend this newer version. With his new label, David Lanz has full control of his music and is free to explore in new directions - a very good thing for his artistry and for us, his fans! Recommended!

Kathy Parsons
Solo Piano Publications

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