Liverpool: Re-Imagining the Beatles is a collection of David Lanz's arrangements of
Lennon/McCartney songs plus one Lanz original, performed by Lanz on piano and
keyboards, Gary Stroutsos on flute, Larry Knechtel on Hammond organ, and several
other musicians on cello, upright bass, drums and percussion. Four of the tracks are
medleys, giving you more tunes for your entertainment dollar! Lanz purposely stayed away
from The Beatles’ biggest hits, but most of these songs are familiar - especially if you grew
up in the 60’s. (Lanz jokes that if you remember that era, you weren’t really there!) I was
a little surprised by the serious tone of most of the album, the use of sound effects on
several tracks, and that only one track is solo piano, but none of these points are
negatives - just surprises. Quite a bit of the music feels improvised, giving it a free, jazzy
style rather than a rock flavor. None of it really rocks - nor was it supposed to - so fans of
Lanz’s soothing, relaxing piano music won’t be disappointed with this release. Some of
Lanz’s familiar touches are readily apparent although he gives the other musicians
(especially frequent collaborator Gary Stroutsos) plenty of room to share the spotlight.
Liverpool opens with the title track, Lanz’s original composition. It begins with the sound of a ferry boat, and the music includes snippets of phrases from various Beatles songs as well as Lanz’s music. Mostly a duet for piano and cello with a little percussion and keyboard, it’s a beauty! “Things We Said Today” is a haunting ballad that Lanz gives an interesting rhythm and freely flowing tempo. The medley of “Rain” and “Eight Days a Week” is slow and somber yet very smooth and relaxing. It features Larry Knechtel on organ and Stroutsos on flute as well as Lanz on piano. The most upbeat song on the album is “Lovely Rita,” the only piano solo and one of my favorites. The medley of “Because” and “I’m Only Sleeping” is a 9 1/2 minute piece that seems to become more improvised as it develops - a fascinating collaboration that includes a variety of artists and instruments. “Norwegian Wood” is possibly the best-known piece on the album, but this arrangement is much more jazz-influenced than the original: smooth, mellow, and soulful! Stroutsos’ flute really soars on this one! The last track is “London Skies: A John Lennon Suite” that includes “Tomorrow Never Knows,”“Across the Universe,” and “Give Peace a Chance.” At just over eleven minutes, the piece has plenty of time to evolve organically and leisurely. Mostly a piano/cello/ and flute trio, Walter Gray’s cello is gorgeous and Stroutsos’ flute casts a spell. Lanz concludes the Suite with a very simple but haunting version of “Give Peace a Chance” on piano with atmospheric sounds, bells, and a slow fade-out.
Liverpool is a winner and should bring a new audience to David Lanz’s music. It is currently available only from davidlanz.com. Check it out!
Lushly produced, heartfelt, compelling and at times even spiritually transcendent, David Lanz's Liverpool: Re-Imagining The Beatles takes a unique classical/new age
ensemble approach to some of Lennon and McCartney's less frequently covered work. Working brilliantly with an ensemble featuring frequent collaborator Gary
Stroutsos (xiao flute, mark tree) and Larry Knechtel (Hammond B-3 organ on "Rain"), Lanz's labor of true love uncovers a richer grace and emotion behind the
surface catchy melodies. Tapping into the same well as he did on 1998's wonderful Songs From An English Garden, Lanz--who sets the stage with the wistful and
reflective original "Liverpool"--triumphs with unexpectedly charming arrangements of songs too many casual Beatles fans need to reach back to and remember.
Jazziz, All Music Guide