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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
  Winter Fantasy by David Arkenstone, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/12/2016
  Road To Chiang Mai by Bill Wren, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 12/5/2016
  Innisfall by Innisfall, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 11/30/2016
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Under The Stars
By Joanne Lazzaro
Label: Self-Released
Released 3/1/2015
Under The Stars tracks
1. Evening Star Song  
2. Sky Chief  
3. Medicine wheel  
4. Moon Dances With New Star  
5. Giant Cactus-Gathering Hook  
6. Path of the Departed Souls  
7. Bear Who Wanted a Mango  
8. Rabbit Tracks  
9. Spirits of the Long-Eyes  
10. Amazing Grace - Trail of Tears  
11. Zuni Sunrise (extended version)  
12. Lark Who Sang His Song to the Sun Every Morning  
A Starry Night of Stories
Imagine a silent night full of stars. You are standing in the dim light of the edifice known as the Mount Wilson Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains just outside of Los Angeles. Just as you gather your thoughts, a single Native American flute melody fills the silence. Breathtaking isn’t it? Of course, you have to be listening to Joanne Lazzaro's new album Under the Stars to get the sense of how small you are in the universe, but how important you are to that same universe.

It is said that the Native American flute was created so that braves could serenade their intended with the music of their emotions. When the flute is played just for the joy of playing, the music and the emotion comes out different. There is a sweet sadness to the sound, almost like a prayer.

Just as the stars show themselves, Joanne offers up the tune Evening Star Song. The solemn music was a perfect beginning to the nightly miracle that inspires, guides and comforts so many spirits. As I wrote this a friend passed, and I knew that his star was brightly shining, his relationship with the universe had truly begun.

The Plains Indians built sacred hoops to draw energy from the earth and as an aid in healing. The Medicine Wheel is an English term. Joanne’s song Medicine Wheel is a flowing path to this energy. It is a comforting sound, resonating deep in the spirit.

Path of the Departed Souls sounds oriental at times and it is not surprising. Many think that Native Americans began their journey in Asian, came across a land bridge in Alaska and traveled south. It was a passage a million years in the making and it is ongoing. There has always been a price for that migration. The loss of land, the loss of nature and the loss of dignity. Path of the Departed Souls is a prayer sent up to acknowledge those who have made the journey.

Native American stories are full of the trickster known as rabbit. He tells false stories and always tries to fool his animal friends. Fortunately, many times rabbit pays for his foolishness. Rabbit Tracks is a light hearted tune full of fun and mischief. All we have to do is follow it, but we might get in trouble.

Spirits of the Long-Eyes is my favorite on the album. As to the theme, I can only wager a guess. I wondered if it referred to one who can see into the future or those that see far. The composition is profound in beauty and extraordinary in depth. The sound resonates like ripples in a pond, but before it is over, before the surface becomes smooth and quiet once again, we see every detail sharply and distinct.

The longest cut on Under the Stars is called Zuni Sunrise. At more than eight minutes long, it is a musical time-lapse of how the earth wakes up every morning. It is celebration of the return of the sun, its display of gold and orange, blue and lavender and the miracle that changes light into heat. Many have tried to reach the place where the sun come from, but none have returned to tell of the tale.

Which brings us to the Lark Who Sang His Song to the Sun Every Morning. Joanne's flute creates plaintive call as the lark looks for the sun to begin his day. The melody is a trilling rendition as the flute produces a voice that we recognize. The lark rejoices in the beginnings of a new day, a new opportunity to do something great.

Joanne Lazzaro's idea of a solo performance in a special environment is not new, but she does do a wonderful job of filling the space with remarkable music. She reminds though her music that roots run deep and that they are not always planted in the earth, but somewhere firmly between the darkness of the stars.
Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 3/11/2016
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