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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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By Sherry Finzer
Label: Heart Dance Records
Released 5/2/2010
Sanctuary tracks
1. Awakenings
2. Celestial Voyage
3. Mystic Haze
4. Ethereal Journey
5. Fortitude
6. Peaceful Drift
From the Winds of the Desert
Citizens of Phoenix, Arizona are very fortunate to have a talent like Sherry Finzer in their midst. She is an extraordinary flute player with an exceptional imagination. I am fortunate to be telling you about her most recent offering called Sanctuary. She bills it as meditative and relaxing and she is correct, but it is so much more. It is a sonic cocoon that I was able to wrap myself in and just exist. The music was a positive embrace to the spirit that allowed me to roam boundlessly free and dream exuberantly in my mind. I have to admit I was a little disappointed after I heard the first cut. I wanted more and the liners notes said just six tracks. Providentially, they were long cuts (total 52 minutes) and eventually, I was satisfied.

The album opens with the tune Awakenings that began with an industrial background, thunderous and frightening. Soon however I was soothed by the echoing sounds of the multilayered flute, the ancient voices and the captivating melody. After several listens, I was almost mesmerized and I began to sway with the music. Very powerful, very hypnotic. I was energized.

Celestial Voyage is one of my favorites. A nighttime desert sky is a breathtaking experience with countless pinpoints of light that make you feel very small. In the southwest, each star represents an individual story told by numerous ancient cultures. Stories about man's journey on the planet, how he came to be, or why the stars exist in the night sky. It maybe the story of Kotcimanyako accidentally scattering the stars or how Coyote let the stars escape or even more profoundly, the Celestial Sisters. Sherry offers a twinkling ballad of deeply haunting flute that calms and yet piques the senses.

It was three years ago. We started our vacation in mid-January. It was cold and Tucson received ten inches of snow. The city was at a standstill. No one knew what to do. Luckily, I am from hardy New England stock and I found back roads that eventually took us north to Sedona. Sherry's flute sings of a Mystic Haze and I can only deduce that it is the mist that surrounds Sedona. We climbed the mountains and as the clouds parted, we were blessed by a crimson vision of the mystical place. To say Sedona is awe-inspiring just does not cover it. To me it is an important part of the history of humankind carved by Nature in red sandstone. Sherry's song brilliantly adds dimension to the magic and power of that hallowed site.

The electric droning in the tune Ethereal Journey sometimes sounds like the rush of water in a desert gorge. Or perhaps it is the same sound that comets or asteroids produce as they zoom through space, vacuum notwithstanding. The song has a delicate Oriental feel that maybe is a voyage through silk covered dreams. In any case, the music is a springboard for a plethora of playful fantasies.

With undoubtedly strong southwestern roots, the song Fortitude rekindles the flame of Native American flute with its beautiful and haunting approach. The song is a testament to the strength of countless generations of desert dwellers who survived the harsh conditions of the relentless sun and the lack of resources and still managed to make an indelible mark in man’s history.

Peaceful Drift is a tune that keeps its promise as it provides muted nature ambiance and a timeless melody. There is a wonderful current of sound that pulls you along and it takes the calmest route possible.

Sherry released her first album in 2006 called Desert Journey as part of a compilation CD. Since then she has released several other albums. She is partnered with some of the biggest names in the Arizona music scene such as John Calvert, Diego Andres and VeeRonna Ragone. She also plays in a group called Trillium Flute Trio. In addition, when she is not appearing all over the southwest or winning numerous music awards she actually has time to teach. Obviously, she is way past multi-tasking and her efforts substantiate her amazing work. Although Sanctuary is a cross between New Age and contemporary, it would feel right at home in many other genres. This luscious music is highly recommended.
Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 8/13/2010
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