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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:
  Echoes in the Sand by Kevin Lucas Orchestra, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 11/21/2014
  The Gathering II by Various Artists, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 11/21/2014
  The Dream Exchange by John Luttrell, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 11/21/2014
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Echoes in the Sand
By Kevin Lucas Orchestra
Label: Raveolution Studios
Released 8/16/2014
Echoes in the Sand tracks
1. New World Orchestra
2. Little Man
3. Sunrise Over Little Egypt
4. Oceans Rising
5. Echoes in the Sand
6. Babylon
7. Ancient of Days
8. The Dreaming Tree
History Lessons, Ancient
I gaze at the picture on the cover of The Kevin Lucas Orchestra and I think shades of Lionel Hampton. Yeah, I'm that old (younger readers will have to Google that name). But not so. Yes, there is vibraphone, kalimbas, and other world instruments in the music as well as some didgeridoo, but it is not what I expected. That's a good thing. The recording called Echoes in the Sand is World music set with modern-day flavor. There's electric guitar, chant, celestial voice and some great percussion on this eight-track album. The compositions are earthy and dynamic, almost like a live performance. After I heard the first track, I knew that I would enjoy the whole album.

The opening track, New World Orchestra is a sampler of what the band can do and it is very well done. The vibraphone joins Asian themes to make a song for when you take your next tour in a rickshaw, swim in a tropical pool, or stroll among the cherry blossoms. The chant and anguished voice seems superfluous, but then every meshes together.

Little Man reminded me of a James Bond theme, with Alexis D'Souza's steamy voice and Paul Speer's grooving guitar. I am not surprised that Ricky Kej's name is on the credits for this one. The next track is Sunrise Over Little Egypt. There's a perky flute dancing around Middle Eastern elements and its spreading cheer. Kinetic keyboards are courtesy of Tholsi Pillay. This is a happy song that will have you dancing in the aisle in no time.

Indian flute player Butto's instrument leads the song Ocean Rising and churns it into a high-energy polyphonic tune. There is a lot going on with a driving beat, strong vibraphone melody and fluid vocals. Just imagine a giant ocean wave crashing onto the shore and in its wake are a dozen incredible musicians giving life to an upbeat score suitable for any action movie.

The title tune, Echoes in the Sand starts out with a vacillating violin (or maybe even erhu?) and warm chorus that invites the listener to travel through the desert and witness where it all began. The "Cradle of Life" anthem is a rollicking journey that takes us between the Tigris and Euphrates. Our footsteps linger in Mesopotamia, but not for long because we are on our way to Gate of God, Babylon. The tune Babylon gives Mr. Lucas an opportunity to lead on the marimba and it is a joy for the ears. The sultry theme is further enhanced by Wouter Kellerman's flute this time making it a lively tune.

Let us find out what the Sumerians were all about.
Ancient of Days has a cinematic feel, representing the chronology of a great civilization. I particularly like the piano in this as it has a smooth jazz overlay, which suited the music well. This is the one that sounded like it had a kalimba in it and I liked for that, as the tone is down-to-earth and natural.

The last cut is called The Dreaming Tree. There is nothing sedate about this number. It is a vocal free-for-all full of vigor and verve. I can imagine an unusual oasis, a star filled blackness above and joyful dancing around a fire. This is a celebration of life, you can dream later.

Somehow, the Kevin Lucas Orchestra has distilled four thousand years of desert history into one amazing recording. The Middle Eastern themes are bright and energetic when need be and the reverence to ancient times is welcomed. Every song is animated and they convey their enthusiasm effortlessly. Highly recommended.
Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 11/21/2014
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