As the oldest of seven kids and having several children and grandchildren frequently showing off, well, let’s just say it takes a lot to impress me. Oliver Mars, a duo of dedicated musicians, does just that. Not too many duets can create the sound and complexity of a six-piece band, and this funky band provides entertaining chord progressions, synthesized sounds and elaborate vocals to create an interesting, if not hypnotic, experience. The principals of Oliver Mars, Jade Nelson and Kaitlyn Mahoney, are also creating a love story.
Jade is a Colorado native, though he spent a couple of his childhood years in Belize, and came from a family of musicians. He was making music before he could walk, and his repertoire grew though his teenage years. When accepted into a prestigious Denver school, he and his parents bought the nickel and silver cannonball sax he still uses today. He formed his first band when he was just 23.
Kaitlyn took a more common route to music, having played different instruments and sung through her St. Louis high school years. It was there that her interest grew to what she knew she would be doing the rest of her life: pursuing her own sound and perfecting her vocal performance.
Jade and Kaitlyn met in the spring of 2016. They fell in love fast, and moved in with each other in Denver and formed a new band within a month of meeting. They played together in several Denver area bands, including the Lincoln Street Project and The Dusty Butts. They moved to St. Louis in 2018, where they started Oliver Mars, and became engaged in 2019 during a visit to Amsterdam. They plan to marry in the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. The band’s moniker came from adding his cat’s name to that of her black lab.
As I mentioned, they write all of their own music and play all of it together, utilizing both of their abilities to play multiple instruments. Incredibly, with the aid of various loop pedals they are able to create the illusion of a larger band. They are in the process of releasing their first album, Synesthetic Symphony, and are touring the St. Louis music scene, playing their new sound for their fans.
It’s not just their story that I appreciate. I am not a musician, nor an expert in the field (but I’m pretty good in karaoke), but I especially admire real, live, gifted artists. I would describe their sound as a blend of jazz and experimental music. Their songs available online are a good mix of both.
Hesitate (Assimilate) uses repetition and hip-hop variations to create a mesmerizing canticle. It is quite different and more modern than most of their recordings.
Anthem is more traditional jazz, reminding me of the sound coming from smoky coffee houses in the 60’s, a very experimental era in that genre.
Enter is bit more empirical than some of the other tracks, with a jagged intro settling into a repeated, friendly vibe.
Another nice blend of a sax melody and synthesized instrumentation can be found in BUTTERFLY, which transitions to piano just before its finish.
I get a Herb Alpert vibe from Sax Over Board. I like how it starts softly and slowly evolves into a simple chorus.
Getaway is the opposite; it starts fast and finishes with a mild musical refrain.
I am so happy that I happened across this creative couple and have been enjoying their artistic endeavors. I think they could benefit from a good producer, one who could enhance their work and give a third professional voice to the process. Regardless of where their professional careers take them, I’m certain I'll be seeing them exceeding their own expectations and achieving artistic and personal success.
You can listen to their music free on their website, olivermars.com, or download songs for a small fee.
Author, poet, photographer, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, sportsman,