The name says it all - Jeff Lorber Fusion. Keyboardist and composer Jeff Lorber brings back his old Fusion moniker for an album reminiscent of his very first band.
For the past 20 years, he's been known simply as Jeff Lorber, so it was just a matter of time before the Jeff Lorber Fusion made its return. And, as the title of their new album suggests, Now Is The Time.
Lorber has not only returned to the name that made him famous, but he's brought back his original blend of jazz, rock, funk and R&B that put him at the forefront of the fusion scene more than 30 years ago. Lorber says, at the time, fusion was a label given to groups that defied the usual musical categories.
"When I started my band I was just working in the club scene in Portland, Oregon where I used to live," explains Lorber. "And, they used to have a lot of rock bands and country rock bands and stuff like that up there in Portland. So, I called my band the Jeff Lorber Fusion just to let people know what they were in for if they're going to come down and hear us play."
Some of the tunes on Now Is The Time were updated from the Jeff Lorber Fusion catalogue. One exception is "Mysterious Traveler" by the groundbreaking jazz fusion group Weather Report.
"When I first heard it I was so taken with it," he says. "And, you listen to it now and it's still a pretty astounding level of creativity between [Weather Report's] Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter in terms of their approach to harmony and melody, besides the orchestration and studio techniques, they really, really were pushing the boundaries in a way that still sounds amazingly fresh."
The latest incarnation of the Jeff Lorber Fusion features a handful of today's best and brightest jazz players, including trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, bassist Jimmy Haslip, guitarist Paul Jackson, Junior, and drummers Dave Weckl and Vinnie Colaiuta. Vocalist Irene B appears on four selections.
Although Jeff Lorber's forte in recent years has been producing and performing "smooth" jazz, his latest album stands to draw new fans.
"It represents a real musical shift toward something a little jazzier and a little more exciting," he says.