By GENE STOUT
Those who haven’t escaped the Seattle area for the holiday weekend might want to consider another kind of escape: an evening of solo piano music by Grammy-nominated new age artist David Lanz.
The local pianist performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 27, at the newly opened Bake’s Place, which has moved from Issaquah to downtown Bellevue. Find the details and ticket prices at the club’s website here.
Lanz’s solo piano concert features such pieces as “Cristofori’s Dream,” “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” “Return to the Heart” and “Dark Horse,” as well as songs from “Liverpool: Re-Imagining the Beatles” and its companion album, “Here Comes the Sun,” released earlier this year in two versions – the first with accompaniment by flutist Gary Stroutsos, cellist Walter Gray and bassist Keith Lowe, and the second featuring just Lanz and his piano.
“Here Comes the Sun” includes the title song by George Harrison, as well as such tunes as “For No One,” “There’s a Place,” “Please Please Me,” “Penny Lane,” “I Am the Walrus” and “Help!” — each done in Lanz’s distinctive style.
The album includes two original compositions, “Prelude Sunrise Follows Moon” and “Sir George (Liverpool
The first song was originally part of the intro to “Here Comes the Sun,” but “because it had a natural break I wrote myself into it,” Lanz says. The song is a tribute to the late Harrison as well as the group’s distinguished producer, Sir George Martin.
Lanz’s rendition of “Please Please Me” sounds much different from the version the Beatles recorded. The original song was a Roy Orbison-style ballad, but producer Martin suggested the group record it at a faster tempo – and it became the band’s first No. 1 hit. But Lanz decided to slow the song down. “I wrote my own motif for the beginning, almost like a waltz,” he says. “It has this kind of French impressionistic sound to it. I changed all the chords around, but left the melody intact, for the most part. This was one of the songs that hit me hard as a kid, so I was especially involved in that one emotionally.”
Lanz recently performed at the Ten Grands Benefit Concert at Benaroya Hall for the Snowman Foundation. The event featured ten grand pianos and ten concert pianists playing classical and modern pieces simultaneously and individually.
Proceeds helped youth service groups, creating scholarships and providing music lessons for disadvantaged youth in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The benefit also raised money to purchase pianos for schools and organizations in need.
Lanz will appear at 10 p.m. June 5 on KCTS Channel 9 with Jan Nickman, the filmmaker who made “Sacred Earth,” which aired nationally on PBS in 2010. Lanz and Stroutsos created the Southwest-inspired soundtrack for the film.
Lanz has a long history in the Seattle area, starting his career in his early teens playing keyboards in the rock band The Towne Cryers, which placed third in a competition among 300 bands at the 1965 Seattle Teen Fair.
For more news about Lanz and his concerts and workshops, visit his website here.
In the video below, Lanz performs his rendition of John Lennon’s “Norwegian Wood” at a Ten Grands concert last year in Portland.