Don’t buy Solo Settings if you’re looking for straight-ahead jazz. It doesn’t claim to be such, instead asking to be rated as "world music." Fair enough.
The "world" for this album by trumpeter Charles Lazarus seems to take in the Pacific Rim. It starts at "Kilauea’s Fountains," a double tonguing exercise taken at an almost impossibly fast tempo. Very impressive. Staying in the Pacific, we watch the "Waves." Lazarus shows off a gorgeous tone over quiet guitars and keyboards, ascending to the high register effortlessly.
If this CD takes you too close to smooth jazz for comfort, concentrate on Lazarus’ incredible technique, especially trumpet students and teachers. "Proclamation for Justice" will help you do just that. "Soldier’s Silent Reverie" may even move you to tears.
Lazarus sits out "Deja Fu" and didn’t compose it, so one wonders how it appears on a solo album under his name. Oh, well. "Proclamation for Amnesty" which, like "Proclamation for Justice" comes from Steve Heitzeg’s "Nobel Symphony," combines gorgeous trumpet with mellow acoustic guitar.
"Dance Honu" is aptly named, as keyboards, guitar and trumpet twirl and spin rhythmically to form an aural dance of joy. Fernando Meza provides a mellow marimba bed for Lazarus’ flugelhorn on "Chorado." Warm and fuzzy, this fits with any after dark activity.
"Madame Fu’s Spirit Dance" makes use of more percussion to really get things moving around a harmon-muted trumpet melody, which builds to a truly exciting climax.
Miles Davis’ hip hop stylings are subtly copied on "Java," a sample-rhythmed funk tune over B3 organ. Very funny, with Lazarus showing some improvising chops. "Deal" continues in that soulful groove, but with unexpected vocals. "Mirrors" features producer Craig Hara on guitar to good effect.
"Postitude for the Rights of All" also from "The Nobel Symphony" closes the work as a kind of "Taps," a call to rest after the journey we’ve taken.
Though Charles Lazarus’ Solo Settings is not for those expecting jazz, one can expect to hear near-perfect solo trumpet played over some beautiful backings. Terrific background music.