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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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Provence
By Luna Blanca
Label: confido
Released 6/21/2010
Provence tracks
1. Driving
2. Mistral
3. Crème Brûlée  
4. Côte d'Azur
5. Rosé
6. Siesta
7. Café
8. Gipsy
9. Françoise
10. La Maison Bleue
11. Camargue  
12. Sunset
Musique du Soliel
Provence is the background score for an idyllic life along the Blue Coast of southeastern France, a place of endless Mediterranean waves, never-ending sunny days and a unique spirit of bonhomie found in very few places on earth. France is, of course, steeped in rich history, but Provence has Nice, Toulon, Marseilles, and Aix-En-Provence. Every city has a story to tell. There is adventure and drama around every corner and romance in the eyes and hearts of everyone you meet. Luna Blanca, the newest wizards of Nuevo Flamenco have put that enduring spirit into 12 tracks of laid back music with a casual aire.

For over a decade Luna Blanca has been primarily powered by the acoustic guitar of founder Richard Hecks and the piano of Helmut Graebe. Several additional musicians are added to the roster as needed whether for studio work or live concerts. Hecks began his vocation in classical music, but after being exposed to the music of Ottmar Leibert, his fate was sealed and Nuevo Flamenco became his inspiration. Graebe began his musical career on bass, but his piano stylings got him a start with the band. Joining the Flamenco duo on the recording are Bino Dola on guitar, Clemmons Paskert on bass, and Uwe Gronau on the fabulous Hammond organ.

Start at Aubagne, get on the A50 and head east. It does not take long for the magic to come about as you travel the roads of Provence. Driving, the opening tune to the album sets the course for adventure and fun. Great guitar stirs up the dust, get the blood flowing and makes promises that the days will be cheerful and light. And just think, Italy is just up the road.

There is a warm, prevalent wind that blows starting from the northeast of France all the way down to Toulon. It is called the mistral and when the wind blows, anything can happen. Luna Blanca's tune Mistral is a caper of friendly faces, jaunty attitudes and sunny skies. With the strong lead of Hammond organ, the tune is reminiscent of Hang 'em High, a very poplar 60's song by Hugo Montenegro.

All I know about Cote d'Azur or the French Riviera I learned watching James Bond movies. From Menton to Cassis, it is the road most traveled on land and by sea it is the favorite docking port of any yacht longer than fifty feet. The crashing of ocean waves and sultry Spanish guitar opens the song and the book of romance. Cote d'Azur is a melting pot of many nationalities that have come from the far corners of the globe to imbibe is the wines, bake in the sun and to find the special someone that the stars has been guiding there all along.

The Cafe. It is the heart of the town. It is the meeting place for business, for friends and for lovers. The guitar sings, the dancers click on hardwood and the air is festive. There is the sound of constant laughter, the clinking of wine-filled glasses and the tapping of toes or fingers. But there is an underlying mood. There is the rage of a jealous lover, the deceit of a vengeful business partner and the subterfuge of deep, dark eyes and ruby red lips. In the tune Cafe, the heart beats, the wine flows and the music lights the fires.

With all the levity and liveliness on the album, it was finally time to come back to earth and the tune Gypsy seemed to do that in a most melancholy way. Perhaps, it is more subdued than it is sad. The slower tempo and quiet chords changed the mood considerably, but we are none the worse. Maybe it is there to reveal one of the many facets of life on the Blue Coast and that we must take the good with the bad, the serious with the somber.

The album and the day close with the tune Sunset. The sky takes on the colors of pale jewels as only it can on the coast. Amethyst and emerald skies mix with the gold as the day greets the night. Suddenly, the stars wink on and the night transforms the mood into one of quiet bliss. The night cools the skin, but not the heart and the music makes such wonderful and unpredictable promises.

This wonderful album puts Luna Blanca into the same school as Johannes Linstead, Ottmar Liebert and Benise. Their solar powered attitudes and love of music makes the album completely enjoyable over many genres. If anyone ever said, "Put on some lively music, please", this would be the album. Turn it up and enjoy.

Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 10/29/2010
 
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