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Laz's solo recordings

Receiving the Shore

Receiving the Shore

Receiving the Shore is a collaboration bringing together poetry by Jennifer Burd and musical settings of those pieces by Laszlo Slomovits. The ten longer poems in the book are interspersed with meditative haiku sequences and evocative drawings by artist Melanie Boyle. The accompanying CD includes song settings for all the poems, sung and accented with folk flutes by Laszlo. Musical arrangements for all the pieces are by Emmy award-winning pianist Brian Brill.

Rendered in both the written word and in music, Receiving the Shore reveals a connection to the natural world through internal and external landscapes. In one piece, water reaches

… all the way to
the truest sound inside us:

you’re here, you’re here,
you’re here.

In another, we are told to consider our perspective when we step out from a tree's shadow:

What we do
changes
what we see.

We are invited to enter these inner and outer spaces, and move through the seasons in both word and song.

Give Light music sample

Give Light - The poetry of Rumi set to music

Jelaluddin Rumi, 13th Century Sufi mystic, is considered by many to be the world's greatest spiritual poet. His powerful poems on the longing of human beings for reunion with the divine, on the many-faceted mysteries of love, and of encouragement on the spiritual path, have inspired countless people for centuries.

Laz had been reading Rumi's poetry for many years, but in the Spring of 2007 his involvement with the poet's work went to a new level. In April, Laz discovered that September 30, 2007 was Rumi's 800th birthday and that there would be celebrations throughout the world, including in Ann Arbor. He joined a group of people in planning the Ann Arbor Rumi event, and in the process, found himself engaging with the poetry on a daily basis. Almost immediately, some of the poems began, as he says, "to sing to me. I'd find myself drawn to a poem, and music would start up spontaneously in response to the beauty of its images and the power of its meaning."

The translations Laz found himself most attracted to were by Coleman Barks, a renowned poet whose work was featured in both of Bill Moyers' PBS television series on poetry, The Language of Life and Fooling with Words. He is the foremost translator of Rumi's poetry, and largely responsible for making Rumi the most widely read poet in America today. A meeting in June with Coleman Barks, resulted in Laz getting permission to perform and record these new songs. "Give Light" is the result.

To this very day, throughout the Middle East, Rumi's poetry is not only read from books but also sung, accompanied by musical instruments. "Give Light" brings Rumi's translated lyrics back into this rich, ancient tradition of poetry set to music. With these gorgeous melodies, Rumi's lines dance off the page! These newly created settings, beautifully sung and performed on a variety of instruments, bring the magic of music to timeless lyrics such as:

"Love is the way
messengers from the mystery
tell us things."

"Let the beauty we love
be what we do."

The CD features 18 poems of Rumi, set in a variety of musical styles, beautifully sung by Laz, with stellar accompaniment provided by: Brian Brill (Piano and Keyboards), Helen Slomovits (Flute), Peter Madcat Ruth (Harmonica) and Lori Fithian (Percussion).

A Divine Invitation music sample

A Divine Invitation—The poetry of Hafiz set to music (CD)

Hafiz, 14th Century Sufi mystic, is the most beloved poet of Persia. It is said that there may be some homes in Iran that do not contain the Koran, but no home is without the Divan (Collected Poems) of Hafiz. There is a tradition that on every Nourouz (New Year’s Day in Iran, which coincides with the Spring Equinox) people open Hafiz’s Divan at random and whatever poem they open to gives them a message to focus on for the year. People also consult his poetry in this way, for guidance and answers when making important decisions. His tomb in Shiraz, the city where he lived most of his life, is visited by thousands each year, and dozens of his poems are learned by heart by every school-aged child.

This is Laz’s first CD of his original musical settings of Hafiz’s poetry. (See above for information about "Give Light," Laz’s 2007 release of his first Rumi CD, as well as "Gamble Everything for Love," his second Rumi CD, released in August of 2009.) Working with the award-winning translations of Daniel Ladinsky, (who has published three volumes of Hafiz’s poetry in translation — I Heard God Laughing, The Subject Tonight Is Love, and The Gift. These three books have made it possible for people throughout the English-speaking world to fall in love with, and be inspired by the poetry of Hafiz Laz has set to music 15 classic Hafiz poems.) Mystical love lyrics, as well as powerful words of encouragement on the spiritual path, these poems uplift and inspire, and the music makes them even more memorable and accesible.

Laz worked on recording these songs with some wonderful musicians — his wife Helen on her soulful flute, an amazing young cellist, Martin Torch-Ishii, world-renowned virtuoso blues harmonica player, Peter "Madcat" Ruth, and Emmy-award winning composer, arranger, pianist Brian Brill, who was also the recording engineer on both recordings.

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"You have been invited to meet the Friend.
No one can resist a Divine Invitation."

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"This place where you are right now
God circled on a map for you."

Gamble Everything for Love music sample

Gamble Everything for Love—The poetry of Rumi set to music (CD)

This is Laz’s second CD of his original musical settings of Rumi’s poetry. (See above for information about "Give Light," Laz’s 2007 release of his first Rumi CD.) Once again, working with distinuished poet and translator, Coleman Barks’ award-winning versions, Laz has set to music 15 classic Rumi poems. Mystical love lyrics, as well as powerful words of encouragement on the spiritual path, these poems uplift and inspire, and the music makes them even more memorable and accessible.

Laz worked on recording these songs with some wonderful musicians — his wife Helen on her soulful flute, an amazing young cellist, Martin Torch-Ishii, world-renowned virtuoso blues harmonica player, Peter "Madcat" Ruth, and Emmy-award winning composer, arranger, pianist Brian Brill, who was also the recording engineer on both recordings. In addition, on one of the songs, “Only Breath,” an exquisite-voiced singer from Iran, Sepideh Vahidi, improvised a haunting vocal counterpoint to Laz’s singing.

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"There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of spirit on the body."

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"The clear bead at the center changes everything. There are no edges to my loving now."

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To read more about Rumi, please see this article Laz wrote in September 2007, leading up to the world-wide celebration of Rumi’s 800th birthday.

Hafiz & Mystical Companions music sample

Hafiz & Mystical Companions: The poetry of Hafiz, Rumi, Rabia, Mira, and Kabir rendered into song

This is the fourth CD in Laz’s series of Rumi / Hafiz poems set to music. Working from Daniel Ladinsky’s four books of translations (The Gift, I Heard God Laughing, The Subject Tonight Is Love, and Love Poems From God) Laz has rendered into song poems by Hafiz,Rumi, Rabia, Mira and Kabir—poet saints of the ancient East. These are timeless poems that transcend cultures and religions, and theycontinue to inspire and guide people all over the world, 500-1200 years after they were written.

These poets all lived in different times and places—from 8th Century Iraq (Rabia), to 13th Century Turkey (Rumi), to 14th Century Persia (Hafiz), to 15th Century North India (Kabir) and 16th Century West India (Mira). But they all had something very precious in common—a direct experience of God, and a desire to help others reach that same state of divine realization.

To this very day, throughout the East, the poetry of these mystics is not only read from books but also sung, accompanied by musical instruments. This recording brings their translated lyrics into this rich, ancient tradition of poetry set to music. These poems, rendered into song, are here beautifully sung and performed on a variety of instruments, bringing the magic of music to timeless lyrics.

All the lyrics of these songs are from the copyrighted work of Daniel Ladinsky from his four Penguin Publication books—The Gift ©1999, I Heard God Laughing ©1996 & 2006, The Subject Tonight Is Love ©1996 & 2003, and Love Poems From God ©2002—and used with his permission.

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"There is only one reason we have followed God into this world:
To defend laughter, freedom, dance and love."

Rumi & Mystical Companions music sample

Rumi & Mystical Companions: The poetry of Rumi, Hafiz, Lalleshwari and Sanai rendered into song

This is the fifth CD in Laz’s series of Rumi / Hafiz poems set to music. Working with the magnificent translations of the much-celebrated poet Coleman Barks, Laz has rendered into song poems by Rumi, Hafiz, Lalleshwari and Sanai—poet saints of the ancient East. These are timeless poems that transcend cultures and religions, and they continue to inspire and guide people all over the world, 500-900 years after they were written.

Jelaluddin Rumi, 13th Century Sufi mystic, is considered by many to be the world's greatest spiritual poet. This recording contains 11 classic poems by Rumi, as well as two poems by Lalla (also known as Lalleshwari, 14th Century North India) and one poem each by Sanai and Hafiz (12th and 14th Century Persia). These poets all lived in different times and places, but they all had something very precious in common — a direct experience of the highest reality, and a desire to help others reach that same state of divine realization.

To this very day, throughout the East, the poetry of these mystics is not only read from books but also sung, accompanied by musical instruments. This recording brings their translated lyrics into this rich, ancient tradition of poetry set to music. These poems, rendered into song, are here beautifully sung and performed on a variety of instruments, bringing the magic of music to timeless lyrics.

Coleman Barks is a distinguished poet and the best-selling author of The Essential Rumi, The Soul of Rumi, Rumi: The Book of Love, and Rumi: The Big Red Book. His work was featured in both of Bill Moyers' PBS television series on poetry, The Language of Life and Fooling with Words. He is the foremost translator of Rumi's poetry, and largely responsible for making Rumi the most widely read poet in America today. All the lyrics for the songs on this CD are from his books, and are used with his permission.

Laz worked on recording these songs with some wonderful musicians —his wife Helen on her soulful flute, world-renowned virtuoso blues harmonica player, Peter "Madcat" Ruth, and Emmy-award winning composer, arranger, pianist Brian Brill, who was also the recording engineer on both recordings.

*****

"This is a subtle truth: whatever you love, you are."

"A thousand half-loves must be forsaken
to take one whole heart home."

"Live as evidence that there is a way
from wanting to longing."

Cry of Freedom music sample

Cry of Freedom: The poetry of Linda Nemec Foster, set to music by Laszlo Slomovits

This compelling collaboration began in 2006 when award-winning poet Linda Nemec Foster first viewed the work of photographer Jacko Vassilev. His portfolio, “The Dance of Zlatio Zlatev,” appeared in Harper’s Magazine and gave visual testimony to the impoverished and marginalized people of Eastern Europe. Vassilev’s haunting portraits inspired Foster to write a sequence of poems, Ten Songs from Bulgaria, that was published by Cervena Barva Press in 2008. When Laz read Foster’s chapbook in 2011, he was immediately drawn to the poems as lyrics for songs, and began composing music for them: Cry of Freedom is the result of this partnership of art, poetry, and music.

Set to a wide range of music — rich ballads, quiet elegies, and expressive folk and blues tunes — and featuring guest performances by Brian Brill (keyboards), Peter Madcat Ruth (harmonica), and Helen Slomovits (flute) — these powerful poems-now-songs about people living on the edges of society, are witnesses to the common dignity of people everywhere.

Linda Nemec Foster’s award-winning poems have been published in nine books (including Amber Necklace from Gdansk and Talking Diamonds) and in numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies. From 2003-05, she served as the first Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is the founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College. LindaNemecFoster.com

"Open wings ready to embrace the wind."

-Linda Nemec Foster
In the Same Sky

In the Same Sky: Eagle and Condor Flying Together (CD)

"In this life, it is important to combine the gifts of the Eagle with the gifts of the Condor. We need to fly with both powers: the power of the Eagle - which is the power of the mind, including the gifts of science and technology, and the power of the Condor - which is the power of the heart, including the gifts of feeling and connection with the elements of the Earth. These two powers - mind and heart, Eagle and Condor - are also inside us. They need to fly together inside each one of us. The power of the Eagle is to think and to plan. The power of the Condor is to feel and to connect. The sky is our daily lives. To fly is to enjoy each moment of our life, and from this experience of life, to continually and spontaneously express gratitude."
– From Friendship with the Elements by Taita Iachak Alverto Taxo

The ancient prophecy of the Kichwa elders of the Andes of Ecuador, passed from generation to generation for over 500 years, say that one day, the eagle and the condor will fly together in the same sky in harmony.

This CD is the fruit of the connection and friendship of our Eagle family - Helen, Laz and Daniel - with the Condor family of Oscar Santillán of Agato, Ecuador. Our coming together has been with the guidance, teachings and support of Taita Iachak Alverto Taxo. Helen's trips to Ecuador to study with Taita Iachak opened the door to our friendship.

Oscar has lived with our family for a couple weeks twice a year since 2003, playing concerts in schools, libraries and gathering places with us. Our family visited Ecuador and stayed with his family in December of 2004 where we again played together in schools in Quito and Agato. Laz' experience of 30 years playing music for families and children as part of the duo "Gemini" created openings for our music in the US and Oscar's work in schools in Ecuador opened doors for us there.

While there, we also participated in the early stages of construction of the Center for Andean Ancestral Wisdom - Pakarinka Sisari (www.pakarinkasisari.com) created by Oscar's extended family. The Center houses many rare, pre-columbian artifacts, and offers workshops on living in an intimate relationship with nature.

Though the connection of our hearts was there from the beginning, it has deepened as we've come more fully to know each other, and shared our experiences, ways of living, hopes and dreams. This music is the fruit of our love for each other and of our gratitude for the riches of both of our traditions and wisdom. Our music has grown over the years, as we've mutually inspired each other, both in music and in how we live our daily lives.

We live in times of great challenge and great opportunity. It is for these times that the prophecy of the eagle and the condor was carefully guarded for so many years. For now is the time when there is the possibility, and the necessity, for us to share our different ways and wisdoms with respect and reciprocity. Now is the time to fly together - eagle and condor, heart and mind - with gratitude in our daily lives.

It is our intention and hope that, in these times of a new dawn, this music brings to all of us balance, joy, and transformation, helping us to fly with heart and mind in harmony.
Helen, Laz & Oscar