Only a handful of pioneering musicians can adapt the perception of fusion jazz into a contemporary mindset and make it palatable. With the release of Now Is The Time . Keyboardist Jeff Lorber demonstrates why he has maintained his stature and reputation, while producing music which is easy on the ears and accessible to a broad audience.
Now Is The Time represents a reinvention of Lorber's original musical trajectory, culled from his early catalog but given a fresh approach and identity. For his new version of the Jeff Lorber Fusion group, the keyboardist recruits bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, joined by guitarists Paul Jackson Jr. and Michael Thompson on alternating tracks. Vocalist Irene B penned the lyrics to the four selections on which she is featured, and contributes a soulful element to the production, notably the opening "Rain Dance/Wanna Fly," (with Randy Brecker on flugelhorn) and the sultry "Sugar Free."
While acknowledged for his layered textural sound, Lorber also provides lucid piano accompaniment in just the right places. The band lays a supporting foundation for special guest Eric Marienthala saxophonist perfectly suited for interacting with Lorber's weaving keyboardson Wayne Shorter's title track to the Weather Report classic, Mysterious Traveller (Columbia, 1974), revived here with a funky treatment that works well. Marienthal also teams up with the Blood Sweat and Tears horn section on full-bodied arrangements of "Pixel" and "Sumatra."
Now Is The Time offers a variation of tempos for nice conceptual listening, the songs flowing seamlessly from one to the next. This seems to be the intention of Lorber as producer, and stays true to the tradition he established early in his career. The recording could easily fall into the popular or smooth jazz category, and there is nothing wrong with that. Lorber states that he wants to "bring fusion back, with a twist," and with Now Is The Time, the keyboardist has clearly accomplished his objective.
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).
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.