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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
  Asia Beauty by Ron Korb, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 1/29/2016
  Bloom Road by Dan Kennedy, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 1/3/2016
  Surrounding Sky by Al Jewer, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 1/3/2016
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Asia Beauty
By Ron Korb
Label: Humbledragon
Released 8/1/2015
Asia Beauty tracks
1. Hanoi Café
2. Journey Begins
3. Forbidden Love
4. Ancient China Prelude
5. Ancient China
6. Children's Jig
7. House of the Five Beauties Prelude
8. House of the Five Beauties
9. Two Mountains
10. Magic Sleep
11. Palace Garden
12. Little Jade
13. The Beautiful Sadness
14. The Reed Cave
15. Joyful Rain Prelude
16. Joyful Rain
17. Blue Bamboo Prelude
18. Blue Bamboo
19. Country Life
Asia Beauty
I have always had an interest in movie soundtracks, and when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the music of Tan Dun and Yo-Yo Ma came out in 2000 I was in seventh heaven. Now, thanks to Ron Korb I don"t have to wait for the next Asian blockbuster to premiere to get great music. I just have to play his latest album Asia Beauty. Ron's flute-based album is like a visit to the Orient with all the frills. The music is created by many types of exotic flutes and with a gentle hand on the compositions. There is light ensemble of various numbers and ethnic instruments on the twenty two tracks. An added bonus is the beautiful artwork and stories in the accompanying liner notes, all thirty-six pages.

Our first stop with Ron is the bustling streets of Hanoi, Vietnam in the opener Hanoi Cafe. First we walk along the streets crowded with people and bicycles, go past shops with incredible smells, stroll in the alleyways and finally, we take a seat at a table. We are served a bowl of Pho, some dumplings and strong coffee, but the music of Ron's flute is the best dish we could order.

We are warmed by the sound of the guqin in the House of the Five Beauties Prelude, but the main theme is an exquisite musical collage of mystery, beauty and soothing refrains that draw us into a fairytale set in olden China that has sorceresses, princesses, emperors, and ancient magic that can only be told through the music. It is by far my favorite on Asia Beauty.

If you walk past the East Moon Gate and through the round portal, you will come to the Palace Garden. You are escorted by the sensual and refined music of Ron's flute as a place of wonder and joy unfolds before you. The willow trees slake their thirst in the placid pond, the murmuring of a waterfall can be heard just up ahead, and, around the corner, is a surprise that will satiate the appetite for innate beauty. Ron's tune has a cinematic feel to it, but it is complimented by Donald Quan's gentle piano lead and sweet sadness of the erhu as played by Lin Xiaoqiu.

The Beautiful Sadness features the piano of Susan Greenway and Ron's flute on a bittersweet melody. The song has just a hint of sorrow in the tune, but if we are patient we can sense that the sorrow soon turns to joy.

Another song with a prelude is called Joyful Rain. Based on a verse by Chinese poet Du Fu, it extolls the kindness of a soft rain which asks for nothing, but replenishes the earth as a gift.

Country Life is another remarkable tune. Ron only had to walk out his door and he was inspired by the everyday life of China. Green rice fields as far as the eye can see, dusty roads that lead to everywhere and skies so blue they please the spirit right down to the soul. Here is their song.

Ron included the bonus song The Sword of Heaven. Along with its minute and a half prelude, it is an eight minute epic chronicling an age of magic in China when sorcerers held sway and dragons and heroes were common. The music is a spell unto itself, mesmerizing the listener with a thrilling tale of adventure and mystery.

With nineteen striking tracks on the album, I never tired of hearing it. The compositions create a fantasy atmosphere that can be relived without any danger of repetition. Any listener would be rewarded handsomely when they journey through Asia courtesy of Ron Korb's Grammy Nominated and award winning melodies.
Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 1/29/2016
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