February 18, 2009

Mars Lasar -- At the End of the Day

If you like prolific artists, how about an artist who manages to crank out an album or two each year with each being uniquely special in its composition one way or another? Such is the case with Mars Lasar who’s released over 20 albums and has a rather extensive resume of productions, arrangements, and other credits. We’re talking about affiliations with everyone from Seal to Herbie Hancock to Aerosmith! That’s about as eclectic and diverse as one can get, wouldn’t you say? This experience doesn’t go untapped with At the End of the Day, a project that, upon hearing, I was driven to review.

With an oft-common thread with the fresh silk of Paul Hardcastle, Lasar shows here on At the End of the Day, with the help of accomplished saxophonist Greg Vail (who adds a really nice touch), that he’s as comfortable with the vibe of smooth jazz and wears its grooves as well as he would with any element of new age (which still maintains a presence here), electronica or any of the other genres he’s noted for exploring and conquering. When I think about his previous themes of preserving our planet and resources, protecting our parks, etc., this project--though mostly created in a smooth jazz setting--is not so far removed from those earlier themes of environmental appreciation, with tunes like “A Drive Through Vineyards,” “City Skyline,” and “Sweet Summer Haze.”

The music here is addictively soothing and unimposing, yet boasts a heavy presence in the room just through its moving, lush melodies and smart, well-conceived hooks. In many cases, an album will put forth an up-tempo, driving piece as its opener to get the listener’s attention. To demonstrate Lasar’s confidence in his ability to capture a listener regardless of the type of tune that sets off his album, this album begins with a slow, hauntingly mellow little ditty called “Warm Nights.” It may not be the pacesetter for the entire album (just listen to the aforementioned “A Drive Through Vineyards,” as well as “Good Times” and “Uptown,” and you’ll get my point), but it’s certainly capable of influencing one to have a seat and give a good, hard listen to the fluid sweetness of the whole production. That fluidity strolls through each track seamlessly. The diversity here is quite satisfying and complete. For example, in addition to tunes I’ve already mentioned here, there’s “Come and Join Us,” which brings to mind the slinky, kinda bluesy cuts like Rick Braun’s “Cadillac Slim.”

Overall, just listen, and you’ll agree at the end of the day that Mars Lasar has a bonafide winner.

Posted by Ronald Jackson at February 18, 2009 1:57 PM