Jeff Lorber: Chemistry in Fusion

Jim Worsley By

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AAJ: Yeah, badass is about right to describe Stern. A phenomenal cat. Big fan of his music and of Leni Stern's (Mike's wife) music as well.

JL: Oh well, Leni is on one song on the record too. A very beautiful piece that has kind of a modal type of sound. As for Mike, you are probably familiar with an album he did with The Yellowjackets a few years back.

AAJ: Yes, Lifecycle. A very nice record.

JL: Yeah, it was very successful and a fun record. So sometimes he is looking to reinvent himself. This has been a challenge and it's been fun. Everybody I have talked to about it has become immediately interested and knew it would be something different and cool.

AAJ: So, with Dave Weckl and Jimmy Haslip on board, there will be both a tour and a new record?

JL: Yes, I wrote six songs and Mike wrote five. Actually, most of my songs I co-wrote with Jimmy Haslip. It's an eleven-song album that we coincidentally are calling 11.

AAJ: When does that come out?

JL: I believe in September.

AAJ: Well, we will seriously be looking forward to that and your tour. I saw you play just a few years ago in LA at the Baked Potato with Haslip, Gary Novak, and Bob Reynolds. As much as I know you dig the creative process in the studio, you guys sure have a lot of fun playing live.

JL: Oh yeah, it's great. I mean, you know, that place is legend. It's a different kind of thing to go there. It's very relaxed and no real pressure. It's a laboratory where we can find new things. I like that place, really glad that it is there.

AAJ: You have played and recorded with Haslip a lot over the years. Maybe you could talk a bit about the musical chemistry you share.

JL: I am very detail oriented and Jimmy is more of the big picture kind of guy. So that works well for us. I really trust his instincts and musical judgment. When we are kicking around ideas for a new record Jimmy is not afraid to let me know if there is something he doesn't like for some reason. So, with that honesty, I can really trust his judgment. Sometimes, too, it is nice not to have all the responsibility. To have someone that you respect that you can bounce ideas off of. And then there is the fact that he can flat out play. He is an incredible soloist. We kind of changed it up and have been doing a lot of trio gigs over the past couple of years. He really helps make that work with any of the drummers we play with. The trio thing is what Jeff Lorber Fusion is really all about.

AAJ: What are the biggest differences between playing years ago when you first started out and playing now?

JL: I remember one time, way back, we were opening for Mose Allison. Someone in the crowd yelled, "Quit bullshitting, bring on Mose."

AAJ: That's never good.

JL: Yeah, well, that school of hard knocks thing again. I was just getting going and experimenting with different sax players and even had a guitarist for a while. It took some time to really find the right sound. Then, of course, now I am playing with Weckl and all these top shelf players. Still, I listen back to some of the records we made way back in the day, and it is remarkable how really good much of it sounds. There was something about the energy and the tightness we had back then. None of us were world-class musicians at that time, but we did play a lot. We got tight, and you can hear that on the records.

AAJ: Sometimes it's more about the feel, the energy, and having a good time. That translates over to the listener.

JL: It's the spirit, yeah. When you play a lot live, you find a way to really hear each other and cement the sound. It really works.

AAJ: And it no doubt continues to work. Jeff, it has been a lot of fun talking to you this morning. I appreciate it very much. Looking forward to hearing the new record with Mike Stern, 11, in September, and catching part of the tour in LA and/or Phoenix in December.

JL: Outstanding. Fantastic. Enjoyed talking with you as well, Jim. See you in December.

Photo credit: Marina Chavez



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