by Mark Miller, Saturday, February 17, 1996
On Touch, the Toronto sextet plays fusion jazz with a pronounced World Beat flavour. In the matter of comparisons, the coarse frontline combination of Hugh Marsh’s violin and John Johnson’s reeds is unique and the band’s noisy exuberance is a far cry from the synthesized slickness of its U.S. counterparts. If there’s a similar outfit around, it’s probably another Toronto band, Manteca, with which Lazar shares Johnson, keyboard player Gordon Sheard and, more generally, a honest night’s work ethic. Lazar’s rap tune, Yo Drummer, is a bit of an indulgence, but his various cross-cultural ventures, mapped out with Sheard’s assistance, are dynamic — none more so on this strong debut CD than Arabian Knights.