For Immediate Release – Jeff Lorber Fusion, whose previous release Hacienda was praised for its “impeccable musicianship and deep grooves” by JazzTimes and its “funky, rollicking jams” by All About Jazz, returns on September 25, 2015, with Step It Up on Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group. The fourth consecutive collaboration between GRAMMY®-nominated keyboardist/composer/producer Jeff Lorber and GRAMMY®-winning bassist/composer/ producer Jimmy Haslip since the two virtuosos reactivated Jeff Lorber Fusion five years ago, Step It Up features 11 new Lorber compositions, several co-written with Haslip. The longtime colleagues also co-produced the recording.
Although the title of the new recording from impromptu trio Jeff Lorber, Chuck Loeb and Everette Harp is ‘Jazz Funk Soul’, what it actually provides is top-notch jazz-fusion of the sort that aficionados had despaired of ever experiencing again. Make no mistake this is contemporary jazz of the highest order and certainly the most interesting release of the year so far. However, considering the pedigree of those involved this is hardly surprising.
Keyboardist/composer/producer Jeff Lorber, heralded as one of the founding fathers of fusion (Keyboard), returns with his GRAMMY®-nominated power trio the Jeff Lorber Fusion, featuring bassist/co-producer Jimmy Haslip and saxophonist Eric Marienthal. Since the late 1970s, this contemporary jazz collective has blended elements of jazz, funk, rock, R&B and world music into a distinctive sound that has connected with audiences from a variety of continents, cultures and generations. In more recent years, the group's studio efforts such as their 2010 release, Now Is the Time (2010) and Galaxy (2012), influenced by extensive touring throughout Europe and Asia, have been colored with vibrant shades of dance and house music.
West Side Stories is the twelfth studio album by a Grammy Award nominated composer, keyboardist and pioneer of the smooth jazz genre, Jeff Lorber.
As with previous release 'Now is the Time' Jeff Lorber is joined by the Yellowjackets' Jimmy Haslip on bass, Eric Marienthal on saxophones and Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl sharing drumming duties. Jeff once again takes some of his more popular tunes from the past, like "Wizard Island", "City" and "The Underground" and updates them with the new band. "Essentially this album is a part two", Lorber says. "It features the same rhythm section, but it's even more into the jazz fusion direction. It's more energetic and the performances are tighter." In total, 'Galaxy' includes 11 Jeff Lorber original compositions.
This is without question Jeff Lorber's finest and most consistant album of the 1980's and is very difficult to locate on CD.The classic title track,featuring the dynamic vocals of singer Audrey Wheeler is the main centerpiece of this album and most of the material tends to be very similar-uptempo vocal funky R&B/fusion with a few light touches.
The Jeff Lorber Fusion's 1970s grooves were hip enough for Nelly to sample them on his 2003 "Pimp Juice" remix. On Lorber's latest CD, the Philly-born keyboardist delivers some of his trademark funk, albeit with musical twists, and a slew of guests from saxophonists Kirk Whalum and Tom Scott, guitarist Russell Malone, and trumpeter Chris Botti to the horns from Blood, Sweat & Tears. His smooth-jazz fans will dig Lorber's lovely rendition of Bill Wither's "Grandma's Hands," graced with Eric Benet's impassioned vocal, and "The Other Side of the Heart," the quiet storm duet with Benet and Holly Cole. But, like a few of his contemporaries, Lorber unplugs and takes to the acoustic ivories on the orchestral, Aaron Copeland-esque overture "Anthem for a New America." He increases his swing cred on the Gil Evans-ghosted "Surreptitious" and "BC Bop" and proves that some smooth stars still have a little hard bop left in them.