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Music Review: Letters to Zerky [A Companion CD]

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This CD is a stunning compilation of tracks that is a companion to one of the best books on the market.

Letters to Zerky, the novel, is a touching tribute to a son from a father, as he documented each and every place they had visited across the globe when his son was just a baby and too young to remember the amazing sites that he witnessed. The music that this CD offers brings readers even further along that magnificent journey, as they listen to flamenco music in all different styles; from the waltz to courtship dances, with overtones of everything from Mozart to harmonious Andalucian folk dances.

Beginning with a truly fantastic track titled “Zerky’s Waltz,” Bill Raney began this CD as he began his book. This lovely song was actually inspired by Gounod’s opera, “Faust,” yet Mr. Raney – with his prowess in the world of flamenco guitar playing – was able to liven the beat and increase the pace. This track truly makes the reader feel as if they have just boarded the VW bus – “The Zerky Mobile” – and have sat down between a boy named Zerky and a dachshund named Tarzan to go for the ride of their lives.

As an FYI, flamenco is a genre of music that stems from the Spanish region of Andalusia, which is noted for its energetic, staccato style. The principal facets of flamenco are the cante, which is the singing, the toque, which is the guitar playing, dance, and the palmas, which are the handclaps that can be heard.

Mr. Raney’s creative mind and fluid guitar playing offers track after track that truly draw readers into a different time and place. In fact, playing the CD in the background while reading the marvelous novel is a joy. With “Tarantas” (track two), the listener can almost hear the tires of that VW bus “buzzing” along the asphalt. There is no distinct compass, as the artist says, and the music feels that way. It’s a VW bus with no direction, but with a whole lot of love, warmth and fun inside its doors.

Tracks follow that include classical overtones reminding the listener of the lovely photo in the book of Zerky playing in a field of flowers. The strings of the Zapateado, which is a traditional “male” dance, makes listeners feel as if they have entered a lone bar nestled in a small village in the Alps. Although the snow and freezing temperatures are right outside, the music tells the tale of the happiness and warmth located inside the small pub, where friends gather to laugh and have fun while Old Man Winter does its best to rattle the windows.

From fast-paced flamenco tunes such as “Granadinas” that makes listeners feel as if they are running away from a guard of some sort – a man in uniform that is chasing them around the city – to a slower, more romantic track like “Sevillanas,” where a man and woman seem to flirt in front of your eyes as they begin their life together, this CD offers a wide-range of styles. With each song, the listener is transported into another world where time has stopped and only the magic of countries never before seen comes to life.

“Alegrias” will most likely be every listener’s favorite, as Bill Raney offers this lively tune that makes people want to get up and enjoy life. With this song, the snow melts and the sun rises high in the sky. Everything is right with the world, and all you want to do is go out and relish all the days you have left in your own journey through life.

Once again, as with the novel, Bill Raney has brought a “story” to listeners that they will truly never forget.

Quill Says: Get in your car, play this CD, and hit the road! This is the music to get your own adventure started.

(Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Feathered Quill Book Reviews)

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About FeatheredQuill

  • I am so glad my CD recieved this review. When we were making our attempted around the world trip in our VW bus, my flamenco guitar playing was always a good way to communicate with people who did not speak English or French. “Music soothes the savage beast,” someone once said–and so it did in Baluchistan when a muslim border gaurd tried to put the make on my wife and co-auther JoAnne. Read my “Letter from Baluchistan.” Also, if you will send me and email via the contact form on my website, and order the book there too, I will send you a free copy of the CD which you can also download off my website for free.