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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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When the Sun Turns North
By Deborah Schmit-Lobis
Label: Self Released
When the Sun Turns North tracks
1. Winter's Child (For Basel Lani)
2. Winter's Calm
3. It Furthers One to Cross the Great Water: Rest Ye Merry
4. It Furthers One to Cross the Great Water: Turning Towards the South
5. It Furthers One to Cross the Great Water: Riding the Big Waves
6. It Furthers One to Cross the Great Water: Beneath, Below, Within
7. It Furthers One to Cross the Great Water: The Farther One Travels...
8. Big Man Winter
While the Giants Sleep
There is a time in early January when the ornaments are all put away, the Christmas tree gets recycled and the snow flies, but the memories of the holidays remain on the tip of your heart and mind. That is the perfect time for "winter music" and the latest release When the Sun Turns North from Colorado based pianist Deborah Schmit-Lobis is quite up to the task. Her contemporary instrumentals are the remedy for the winter blues. The eight tracks feature piano, tenor sax, violin, oboe, English horn and my least favorite instrument, didgeridoo. Luckily, the didgeridoo is subtle and the accompanying instruments combine into an ensemble of gentle sounds that compliments the warmth of the firelight and the warmth of friends, whether they be beside you or just memories.

Deborah Schmit-Lobis began thinking out of the classical music box at an early age. She survived the criticism, remained true to her ideals and a contemporary pianist was born. Her music bears the richness and tone of the classical genre, but maintains a separate structure that allows better flexibility. It is as difficult to explain as was Will Ackerman's music back in the eighties. But then again, he created a completely new genre.

Winter's Child features Tibetan bowls that create sympathetic vibrations merging with the crystalline piano melody. There are a few ghosts from winter's past inside the tune courtesy of a riff of Carol of the Bells, but it all meshes rather well. The oboe carries the tune skyward as the a few snowflakes tumble lazily out of the sky.

The is a great cut called Rest Ye Merry that has the familiar refrains of the Christmas song, but with the terrific sax lead by Doug Carmichel and the haunting piano score by Lobis it becomes a totally different tune. Additionally, the song features the memorable strain of the violin by Kailin Yong. Altogether it is a vibrant combination of music that feels far away on the horizon, but very near to your spirit.

Around you everything is stiff and cold as transparent icicles hang at attention and gleam on the roof eaves. There is an inkling of warmth in the song Turning Towards the South. Even on the coldest winter day the sun ads a bit of warmth as it shines through a crystal blue sky. As the music comes to a close, we feel that the light just does not last long enough sometimes.

The didgeridoo drones softly in the background in Beneath, Below, Within. The tune has a cinematic feel as if it is a theme from some frigid scene. The character just seems to be looking for any kind of warmth. She look beneath and below, but eventually finds it within.

The Farther One Travels is a study in self-doubt according to the old adage, "the further one travels, the less one sees". However, to me the song has a different meaning. I think the more one travels the more one sees and hears. Deborah is reminding to keep our eyes, our ears and our hearts open to new things.

Big Man Winter, the longest cut at 11:55 is a whole season wrapped up in twelve minutes of astounding music. It is the flurry of new snow from an old sky, it is the howling north wind making the trees bow and it the rare, noon day thawing that turns crystal into water. Old Man Winter can be cruel, but he has a softer side.

All and all, Deborah Schmit-Lobis presents eight cuts to give us a taste of winter and all of its facets, from diamonds made of ice to walls ten feet high of overnight snowfall. This is winter music at its best and should be in any contemporary enthusiast's collection.
Rating: Excellent   Excellent
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 1/17/2012
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