If the word "fusion" is a dirty word don't tell Jeff Lorber. In 1977, the Jeff Lorber Fusion made the scene and 36 years later there's a new incarnation of the band built around Lorber's keyboards, synths and occasional guitar, Jimmy Haslip on bass, and Eric Marienthal on saxophone. What's changed in nearly four decades later in the current version is a vastly improved model, but Lorber's energy and exuberance for funky, rollicking jams is undiminished.
A perfect summation of how things come together is Frank Zappa's "King Kong" which teams Lorber with two Mothers of Invention alumni, Jean-Luc Ponty and Ed Mann. Luc-Ponty's is a gifted electric violinist who has been missing in action lately as he has pared back his appearances, but he sounds in fine form here as his leads dance in and out around Vinnie Colaiuta's kinetic drumming. Colaiuta, who can play with power, style and restraint, is the "X" factor here and the de facto fourth member of the band.
Marienthal's alto sax gets a showcase on "The Steppe" and his lyrical approach is a warm caress to the senses as Haslip plucks some funky bass lines as Lorber and Colaiuta joining in to make their own contributions. "Hacienda" and "Fab Gear" are standard Lorber jams designed primarily to make toes tap and heads nod than anything more ambitious.
Lorber's unwavering commitment to fusion results in some of his strongest renditions in years as Hacienda exhibits his expertise on the Rhodes electric piano and various synths. The spark that precedes Galaxy (Heads Up, 2010) shines brightly on Hacienda as Lorber, Haslip and Marienthal are on a brilliant musical adventure that is compelling, innovative, and unique.
Track Listing: Corinaldo; Solar Wind; King Kong; The Steppe; Hacienda; Fab Gear;
Raptor; Everlast; Playa Del Falco; Escapade; Dragonfly
Personnel: Jeff Lorber: keyboards, synth bass, guitar; Paul Jackson Jr.: guitar
(1, 6, 7, 8, 10); Jimmy Haslip: bass; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums (1-8);
Lenny Castro: percussion (1, 4, 5, 7-10); Larry Koonse: guitar (2, 9);
Eric Marienthal: alto sax, soprano saxophone (1, 2, 4-11); David Mann:
horn arrangement, section saxophones, brass, flutes (1, 2, 5-7, 10,
11); Jean Luc-Ponty: violin (3); Ed Mann: marimba (3); Michael
Thompson: guitar (3, 11), guitar orchestration (4); Gary Novak: drums
(10); Dave Weckl: drums (11)
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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