True to the title of his elegantly flowing, melodically engaging debut solo piano album, Cory Lavine’s journey is testament to one of life’s most curiously beautiful realities – that sometimes, the most transcendent, divinely inspired moments can happen to us from Out of the Blue. His unique circuitous route from years of childhood piano lessons to becoming a force in independent new age music is case in point.
After high school, he toured with a rock band. He earned a Bachelor’s in music and sociology from St. Lawrence University but left it behind for a long time, until he felt a calling to study recording and sound engineering. When he lost his internship working sound at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, he got a gig as a bellman at the hotel and won the Chairman’s Award for “Passion” – representing one of the seven values of the establishment. In 2009, a guest of the hotel learned of his musical passions and reminded him, “Don’t forget why you came here.”
He came to see this mysterious, soon disappearing guest as an angel, and remembered her when he returned home from a walk one day, sat at his keyboard, pressed “record” and composed the thoughtful yet whimsical song that became the title track to the album. Artfully blending high register motifs with lower tones that reflect deeper emotions, Lavine on tracks like “Riding the Wind,” “Giving Thanks” and “Adante” reminds me of what might happen if two of my favorite pianists, David Lanz and Jim Brickman, fused their styles.
Like Brickman, there’s an infectiousness and economy in these compositions, but he often takes them beyond the limited confines of a pure pop structure. You would never find a dreamy, expansive piece like “Child’s Work,” with its rich intertwining high-low registers, on a Brickman set, but it’s something Lanz might do. This is not to say Lavine is just like either of these popular artists. I make the comparison for the listener to have a point of reference, but in line with the “Out of the Blue” concept, there’s no question these pieces reflect the pianist’s unique character and ability to be receptive to and channel what we may call The Spirit or God.
Another favorite of mine is “Little Dance,” whose blend of innocence, charm and swirling energy is a wonder to behold. I’m delighted to report that since the album’s release a few years ago, Lavine won Best New Artist from Enlightened Piano Radio and that the critically acclaimed collection was featured on One World Radio in the UK. I wish I had known of Lavine sooner – and now I can’t wait till his next release!