Mp3's of Laurie's music are also available for digital download via Bandcamp
Bring a Torch / Little Drummer Boy
Carol of the Bells
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Warmth from Within
The Heart of the Holidays
Deck the Halls / Angels We Have Heard on High
Imagine / Happy Xmas
What Child is This
Do You Hear What I Hear
Same Old Lang Syne Medley
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
The Night Before Christmas
More about the album:
Heart of the Holidays is a celebration of the season that wells up from deep within, and rings forth in each and every cut on this joyous recording.
From the stunning keyboard work on traditional classics such as “Bring a Torch” and “Little Drummer Boy,” to the unexpected syncopation of “What Child Is This?” and the light-hearted reverence of the “Carol of the Bells,” Laurie breathes remarkable life and feeling into familiar tunes. Included are creative new interpretations of traditional Chanukah songs “Mo’oz Tsur” and “Sivivon,” along with two new original numbers that easily hold their own next to songs we all know by heart. Listeners will walk away humming the melodies of the title tune and “Warmth From Within,” which was written for the beautiful album cover oil painting by renowned artist Jesse Anderson.
Playful touches are included, like special guest, actor Jack Palance singing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” – which may well become the novelty hit of the season – and inserting a snippet of Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song” into the grand finale. And then topping it all off is Jack Palance’s delightful reading of “The Night Before Christmas.” Yet the emotional centerpiece of the album has to be the stunning medley of John Lennon's “Imagine” and “Happy Xmas,” featuring vocals by special guests Michael Carter, Guy Tanner and the Heart Choir. Recorded just days before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11th, no one knew that the events in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania would give so much poignancy to Lennon’s simple lyrics: “A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year; let’s hope it's a good one, without any fear.” Clearly, this is more than just another Christmas CD.
In fact, Heart of the Holidays is exactly what we need right now – a heartfelt reminder of the enduring joy of the season and of the human spirit.
Heart of the Holidays book with bonus CD:
Selected tracks from Laurie Z.’s Heart of the Holidays have been added as a Bonus CD Insert of Musical Selections to a special edition of author and motivational speaker Sheryl L. Roush’s Heart of the Holidays book.
More about the album cover:
The Heart of the Holidays cover was painted by Jesse Anderson.
“It seems like yesterday that Laurie and Michael were sharing good times with us, and we miss them. Laurie called me and asked if I could paint the cover for the CD before it was even finished. She described what she thought she wanted, an old log cabin, next to a cold frozen creek, with lots of snow. Sometimes that is a hard order to meet, trying to imagine what a person has in their own mind. I painted the painting, and made it very Christmas, including a tree in the window and lights hanging on the eves. I sent it to her in the form of a CD jacket, and got an immediate response on the phone. She absolutely loved the painting except for one thing. She said ‘Jess, the painting is great, but I’m Jewish, and all the Christmas stuff doesn't fit’!! I slapped my forehead, went back to the easel and made the changes to be what the painting is today! She let me know it was a holiday album, not a Christmas album. I told her that I had titled the painting ‘The Warmth From Within,’ and she told me she would write a song to fit the feel of the painting. She did that with such great style! When Laurie was in the hospital in Seattle, I took the painting to her room and hung it up. I told her that if she beat the cancer, the painting was hers free and clear. Sadly, I got the painting back, and it hangs on my wall. We play the album a lot, and not just at the holidays!”
Jesse Anderson is an artist specializing in realism in oils. Jess’s love of art extends not only to canvas but also to music and restoration design. He and his do-wop quartet do a History of Rock and Roll and oldies music show.
See his website here:
The following article appeared in the Tehachapi News at the release of Heart of the Holidays in 2001:
Touching the heart with music,
Jack Palance performs on album...
by Carol Holmes, Tehachapi News Editor
As people listen to the album Heart of the Holidays this year, they will easily recognize one distinctive voice that has endeared movie audiences throughout the world.
Actor, painter and poet Jack Palance joins talented pianist Laurie Z. on a new musical album recently produced for this holiday season.
After recording three instrumental albums featuring her own brand of improvisation and arrangements, Laurie wanted to produce an album for the holidays.
“I knew it was the right decision when Jack agreed to sing on the album,” Laurie said.
Palance, who hasn't recorded a song in 30 years, and vowed he would never record a song again, changed his mind after falling in love with Laurie’s musical style.
“I love everything about her music,” he said. “She is a genius. I love what she does with music.”
Palance's trademark voice presents a delightful reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” And despite the years that have transpired since he last recorded a song, his voice carries through in a lovely upbeat rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”
Laurie enjoys watching the reaction that takes place when someone listens to the album for the first time. She said their eyes open and they immediately recognize Palance's voice.
“This big smile comes on people’s faces and I love it,” she said. “It is worth it right there.”
As a singer as well as the executive producer for the album, Michael Carter, also enjoys the Palance performance. Carter was Palance’s acting co-agent with William Morris Agency for several years.
He said every time he listens to Palance’s “Night Before Christmas,” he always envisions Jack sitting in a large wing back chair, facing a fireplace with a roaring fire and surrounded by young children listening to him telling
them a story.
“That is how I envisioned this before we did the album, and I thought there is no one in the world who can do this better than Jack,” he said.
But Palance thinks the credit should go to the man who wrote the ageless poem.
However, according to Laurie, Palance breathed new life into the classic poem.
In 1972, Palance recorded “Old Home Town,” with Buddy Killin in Nashville. Palance said the album did very well and he was signed to a six-year contract.
However, shortly after signing, Palance went to Italy and attended an opera. He admired and appreciated the quality of the vocalist and felt his own voice wasn’t that good so he called Killin to cancel the contract and to tell him “I’ll never sing again.”
Palance’s passion for good music developed in his growing years when he learned to play the violin, the accordion and the harmonica.
“I played the little squeeze box and the harmonica,” he said. “I still play the harmonica.”
Besides enticing the well-known actor to perform on the album, Laurie has taken warm, familiar holiday melodies and wrapped them in new and intriguing arrangements.
“We’ve taken the traditional melodies and added new arrangements to them and made them a little more modern, a little more upbeat,” Carter said.
A good example of Laurie’s improvisation skills on a timeless classic can be experienced by listening to “What Child is This.”
“I started thinking I’d like to do something different with this song and it became a Latin up beat version of ‘What Child is This’ and it just fits.”
Laurie also gives a new sound to the Chanukah song, “Sivivon.”
As she began playing the song she said somewhere from her heart came an intensely emotional rendering of a song completely different from the familiar composition.
“So I try to do different things with every song,” she said.
Laurie remembers that after one listener heard the new arrangement of “Sivivon,” he began to cry.
For Laurie, music is about moving people to dance, to feel, to rejoice, and to laugh.
“Each song has an emotional statement to make,” she said.
Laurie composed two new songs for the album, “Heart of the Holidays” and “Warmth from Within.” Both songs are sweet, comforting melodies that touch the heart and memory.
Laurie began taking piano lessons at age 4 and had her first public performance at age 5.
For Laurie, playing the piano and composing and improvising is “a piece of cake.”
“It’s pretty much like breathing for me,” she said. “I can actually read a book and play.”
According to Carter, Laurie is one of the best improvisers he has ever heard. He said if she is given a title and note she can create a melody in one minute.
Carter, who has a 17-year long background in singing, is also returning to singing after 30 years. His voice lends mellow tones to Laurie’s accompaniments of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
One of the most moving selections on the album can be heard as a children’s choir sings: “a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, let's hope it's a good one, without any fear.”
Those words, recorded a few days before the Attack on America, gave poignant meaning to the album.
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