Charles Lazarus

Solo Settings

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The album title Solo Settings refers to the fact that North Carolina-born trumpeter Charles Lazarus is the only brass player on these 13 tracks. Actually, the album is basically a duet release, with Lazarus soloing over settings provided by his co-producer Craig Hara, whose smooth-groove aesthetic is a mixture of middle-of-the-road R&B (especially on "Deal," which has a '70s smooth jazz feel right down to the wordless female backing vocals) and weightless new age drift akin to some of British trumpeter Jon Hassell's records with Brian Eno. The results are pleasant enough, and Lazarus plays beautifully throughout, with remarkable clarity of tone and a highly melodic improvisatory sense. However, Hara's arrangements and the songs themselves (mostly written by Lazarus) both tend toward faceless elevator music. Solo Settings is head and shoulders above the gloppy, overproduced dreck of, say, Kenny G., but the stylistic differences between the two are perhaps closer than Lazarus might have intended.

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