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My Brush With David Lanz – Classic Artist In Disguise

photo: (David Lanz) Keith James

As a little boy in the third grade, my grandmother gave me a ripped cassette tape (we didn’t know that it was a crime back then) that she’d made form a record of some peaceful piano music. I wore that dang thing out just sitting around the house daydreaming about actually playing piano like that. Now, nearly thirty years later not only do I play and teach the music that once inspired me, but I got to meet and hang out with the man behind it all.

His name is David Lanz, he’s a Grammy-winning New Age artist who basically invented the style of music that he calls ‘instrumental pop’ which has since been popularized by guys like Yanni, George Winston, Jim Brickman, Jon Schmidt and others. For a taste, here’s a concert he did a year or so ago which he kicks off with his cover of Procul Harem’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’. The show is about an hour, so if you don’t have the time, bookmark this page for more later…


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Now don’ t let his chill demeanor fool you. He can play a mean piano as well as a tame one and he just found that he could make a better living doing what he’s doing now than playing in pop/rock bands. Incidentally, if you’ve heard Terry Jacks’ ‘Seasons In The Sun’, that’s David on the keyboards!


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Just like any relative stranger, you don’t realize his immense diversity and depth until you get him up close, although given his demeanor you can pretty much guess that there’s lots under his hood! Would you guess that he was actually an avid drummer before picking up the piano and still plays today?? I had the privilege of meeting David when I flew him into town from the other side of the country for a personal concert for my piano students and his East Coast fans some years back.


photo: (David Lanz) Keith James

It was quite the trip to hang for a couple of days with the guy who accidentally inspired me, but even cooler was that when I surprised my music-pirate grandmother with a phone call in which he thanked her personally for ripping his record and turning her 8-year-old grandson on to his music. Imagine her surprise when she heard his voice after, “Grandma, you’re never gonna guess who’s in the car with me right now…” My grandmother passed away not long after that and I’m happy knowing that she got to enjoy that moment that was some twenty years in the making. David and I are still in touch and now that he’s since moved to the East Coast (our backyard in fact), I’m hoping that collaborating might be a reality again soon! Here’s David (with ever-present coffee in hand) coaching one of my former students…


photo: (Gaspar Perez, David Lanz) Keith James

I’ve changed a lot in 8 years, David not so much, haha! He’s still the same silver-haired sharp-witted dude that he was since even on that 1985 Narada Sampler that I discovered him on! Kinda has me wondering if there’s something in this Seattle native’s West Coast coffee…


photo: (David Lanz) Keith James

Catch the same kind of personal experience that I did, as along with all of his national dates, he now plays songs right out of his home near Rochester! Can’t get any more personal than that! Here’s more on that and the artist himself from a news cast this past fall…


Next: See Some More 'New Age' Piano

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