Jeff Lorber Fusion: Now is the Time (2010)

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Jeff Lorber Fusion: Now is the Time
An accepted kernel of jazz historiography states that cats who play what has ultimately become smooth jazz play it because they can't play the real music. But even back in the day—specifically the seventies—this wasn't true across the board, as evidenced by the undeniable chops of Ramsey Lewis
Ramsey Lewis
Ramsey Lewis
b.1935
piano
, Grover Washington, Jr.
Grover Washington, Jr.
Grover Washington, Jr.
1943 - 1999
saxophone
, Joe Sample
Joe Sample
Joe Sample
1939 - 2014
piano
, and Philly-born keyboardist Jeff Lorber. His group, The Jeff Lorber Fusion, was a mainstay on urban black radio, and his compositions, arrangements and solos swung in the commercial contexts of the day, so much so that decades later rap artists would resurrect his songs in the hip-hop generation of the nineties.

So we have rappers to thank for this dancing and delightful disc that features dynamic do-overs from Lorber's catalog—specifically from his critically-acclaimed The Jeff Lorber Fusion (Inner City, 1977), Soft Space (Inner City, 1978) and Water Sign (Arista, 1979), along with some new offerings. Now is the Time, whose title riffs off of the famous Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
tune, features a new Jeff Lorber Fusion lineup, with members including bassist Jimmy Haslip
Jimmy Haslip
Jimmy Haslip
b.1951
bass, electric
, vocalist Irene B, trumpeter Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker
b.1945
trumpet
and saxophonist Eric Marienthal
Eric Marienthal
Eric Marienthal
b.1957
saxophone
.

Hot out the gate is the anthemic "Rain Dance/Wanna Fly," which was sampled by Lil' Kim on her hit, "Crush on You." Lorber and company lay down a 21st Century mid-tempo groove as good as the original, with Irene B's lithe, uplifting vocals, Brecker's ebullient flugelhorn tones and Lorber's in-the-pocket acoustic piano solo. The laidback lilt of "Curtains/Before We Go," which provided the foundation for rapper Nelly's naughty "Pimp Juice" remix, is reborn with its original balladic beauty, featuring a lush orchestral/synth introduction and another Irene B vocal treatment, graced by Marienthal's piercing sax solo. The complex tempoed, samba-fied "Chinese Medicinal Herbs," is a showcase for Dave Weckl
Dave Weckl
Dave Weckl
b.1960
drums
's technically brilliant and crisp drumming.

The Blood, Sweat and Tears horns are featured on the funky "Dr. Moy," and "Pixel." Lorber's take on Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
's Weather Report
Weather Report
Weather Report

band/orchestra
classic, "Mysterious traveler," manages to stay true to its exotic and evocative aural aura, while interjecting some intelligent urban rhythmic motifs to the mix. Lorber's pianism—acoustic and electric—is short and sweet, but to the point; along with Haslip's ingenious bass lines and Weckl's lickety-split rhythms. All told, Lorber and his fusioneers serve up a pleasing disc that confirms that old saying that (musically speaking) some things are better the second time around.

Track Listing: Rain Dance/Wanna Fly; Dr. Moy; Pixel; Sugar Free; Mysterious Traveller; Curtains/Before We Go; Black Ice; Las Rosas; Chinese Medicinal Herbs; Sumatra.

Personnel: Jeff Lorber: keyboards; Irene B: vocals (1, 4, 6, 10); Paul Jackson Jr.: guitar (1, 3, 4, 7, 10); Randy Brecker: flugelhorn (1); Jimmy Haslip: bass (1, 3-11); Vinnie Colaiuta: drums (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10); Jimmy Branly: percussion (1, 5, 7, 9) drums (6, 11); Eric Marienthal: saxophones (2, 3, 5-11); Michael Thompson: guitar (5, 6, 8, 11); Tony Maiden: guitar (2); Alex Al: bass (2); Li'l John Roberts: drums (2); Lenny Castro: percussion (2); Larry Koonse: guitar (9); Tom Timko: flute (1, 3, 9, 11); Steve Jankowski: flugelhorn (9), trumpet (1, 3, 11); Dave Weckl: drums (9); Jens Wendelboe: trombone (1, 3, 11); Teddy Mulet: lead trumpet ( 1, 3, 11).

Record Label: Heads Up International

Style: Contemporary/Smooth


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