Tucked away in a residential area in Snohomish, Washington is veteran singer-songwriter Tim Noah’s Thumbnail Theater. An extremely intimate performing arts center, the Thumbnail was the perfect venue for a nearly-solo piano show by pianist David Lanz. The native Washingtonian recently relocated to upstate New York, but on Saturday, December 21, he was back in town for a few holiday performances. Lanz captivated the Thumbnail audience with a mix of his unique arrangements of traditional Christmas carols, original compositions from his new album Movements of the Heart, and favorites from throughout his career.
Lanz was chatty, in a low-key kind of way, drawing laughs with his between-song patter. He joked about being bored by Lawrence Welk, recounted his discovery of The Beatles, and shared anecdotes about the origins of his latest compositions. The lovely “La Luna dell’ Amante” was a highlight from the new album, while a medley of Beatles classics thrilled the audience (he worked in so many, it was hard to keep track, but “Yes It Is,” “Penny Lane,” and “I Am the Walrus” all made dramatic appearances). Late in the show he performed his signature piece, “Cristofori’s Dream,” the title track of his 1988 Billboard New Age chart-topper.
The nearly two-hour performance (including a brief intermission that divided two sets) was mostly Lanz alone at the piano, but for several songs he was joined by vocalist Kristin Amarie. The multi-lingual artist (she not only sang in English, but also Norwegian and German) performed sweetly understated renditions of several holiday favorites, as well as material from her new album, Notes from a Journey.
The evening closed with a rousing, boogie woogie take on Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker March.” It was a great reminder of Lanz’s stylistic versatility. Categorized primarily as a New Age artist, his piano playing encompasses such a wide variety of moods and intensity levels, it defies categorization. Lanz will perform at Seattle’s famed Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley on Monday, December 23. Visit his official website for more information about Movements of the Heart, now available on Shanachie Records.