Thursday, July 1, 2021

JEFF LORBER FUSION · SPACE - TIME

Shanachie Entertainment
July 2, 2021

“I’m incredibly lucky to spend my time doing something that I love. When you are doing things that you enjoy, it is easy to spread those good vibes around,” shares Jeff Lorber. The down to earth and humble trailblazing Grammy-winning pianist, composer and producer has built an impressive four-decade career, transcending musical boundaries and honing his own uniquely identifiable sound. A groundbreaking Fender Rhodes pioneer along with Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample and Bob James, Lorber is also one of the most in-demand producers in Contemporary Jazz. Maintaining a busy schedule during the pandemic this past year, Lorber worked on projects with Herb Alpert, Richard Elliot, Norman Brown and Alexander Zonjic, just to name a few. “While working on all of these projects,” explains Jeff, “I was sending my manager Bud Harner stuff that I was writing and he was particularly enthusiastic when I sent him my now new single “Back Room” in demo form. His reaction really inspired me to want to focus on making my own record.” July 2, 2021 Jeff Lorber continues to affirm why he is a magnetic force of nature with the release of the anticipated Space-Time. In selecting an album title, Jeff Lorber alludes to his affinity for science and physics. With all the recent chatter about Government confirmed UFO sightings and potential extra terrestrial life, Lorber muses, “If there are aliens, they are probably watching I Love Lucy right now and maybe jamming to early Miles Davis and John Coltrane or listening to some Sun Ra!”

Space-Time is a supersonic odyssey with longtime Jeff Lorber Fusion trio-mates drummer Gary Novak (who has worked with everyone from George Benson to Chick Corea) and bassist/Yellowjackets founding member Jimmy Haslip. “I first met Jimmy and we worked together in the early 80s but we really started working closely in 2010 after a tour we did together in Russia,” recalls Lorber. “He’s a good partner to have and he keeps the big picture in mind, when I sometimes tend to be more detail oriented about things. Gary became part of the core rhythm section around 2010. He’s a good friend and good hang. We have a lot of fun together besides making music.” The album also enlists some help from flutist Hubert Laws, guitarists Paul Jackson, Jr., Michael Landau and Robben Ford, saxophonists Bob Mintzer, Dave Mann, Gary Meek and Gerald Albright (who actually plays electric bass on a track). Space-Time showcases new and original material including a track that was penned for Jeff’s friend and towering piano giant Chick Corea, shortly after his passing.


Jeff Lorber Fusion maps out all of the celestial coordinates on Space-Time, offering a wondrous galaxy of sonic delight. Lorber and company manage to create a sound and feel throughout the album that captures the essence and vibe of a live show. “All the musicians are experienced studio musicians and that’s something that studio players always aim for. The idea is to make it sound natural, grooving and relaxed and to capture the sound of playing for a live audience even though the audience isn’t physically there.” While most of the band completed the album from their own remote studio locations, Lorber and Gary Novak did have the opportunity to record together in the same studio. “Over the last number of years most of us have gotten used to tracking at home,” explains Jeff. “So from that standpoint it wasn’t that different from a normal record. One thing that was different, however was the absence of live touring, I was able to really focus on the record and this album benefitted positively from that.”

In 2018, Jeff Lorber Fusion scored their first Grammy win with the recording Prototype. Lorber reflects, “Winning a Grammy was a thrill, especially after not winning after the last six nominations. It felt very different to hear my name rather than somebody else’s after ‘the winner is…!” Jeff Lorber Fusion came to life in the 70s when the pianist attended Berklee College of Music. A true clinician, Lorber has made it a point to study the long line of modern jazz pianists since 1945. “Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea have been major influences but I had to go back and try to figure out who they listened to and were inspired by,” says Lorber. “Some of these icons that come to mind are Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner and Bud Powell.” He adds, “I also can’t forget all of the pianists who played with Miles Davis such as Red Garland, Wynton Kelly, Tommy Flanagan and Horace Silver.” Growing up in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania offered great inspiration for Jeff Lorber. “There were a lot of home grown record labels like Cameo Parkway and Philadelphia International (Gamble and Huff) not to mention tons of home grown talent and the Dick Clark show originated from there too.”

In 1977 Jeff Lorber Fusion released their self-titled debut. Their 1980 album Wizard Island made the introduction of a then little known Kenny G. The ensemble quickly gained traction and became one of the most popular jazz acts, touring nonstop. In 1982 Lorber made his solo debut with It’s A Fact. He scored his first Grammy nomination in 1985 for his radio hit “Pacific Coast Highway” from his album Step By Step. In the 90s Lorber released a successful string of projects including West Side Stories (1994), State of Grace (1996) and Midnight (1998). During this time Lorber also stayed busy producing Michael Franks, Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright and Rick Braun, among others. The prolific pianist continued to add to his accolades with his shining recordings Kickin’ It (2001), Philly Style (2003), Flipside (2005), He Had A Hat (2007, Grammy nominated) and Heard That (2008), Now Is The Time (2010, Grammy nominated), Galaxy (2012, Grammy nominated) Hacienda (2013, Grammy nominated) and Step It Up (2015). Lorber made his first recordings for Shanachie as a member of Jazz Funk Soul with the late revered guitarist Chuck Loeb and saxophonist Everette Harp on the albums Jazz Funk Soul and the Grammy nominated More Serious Business.

Jeff Lorber has endured his own battle with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) and has made it a mission to work with the PKD Foundation to raise awareness. “I was very lucky that my wife donated her kidney,” shares the pianist. “I’m very grateful for that. My sister had a transplant a couple years ago and she is doing well also. There are some solutions that are being worked on but like many genetic based diseases it could be a long time before there is significant progress. People should know that there are 800,000 people in the US with PKD and two million worldwide. It’s a huge problem that unfortunately doesn’t get a lot of publicity.”

With the release of Space-Time, Jeff Lorber continues to demonstrate that his inspiration to push his music forward is as energized as it ever was. He concludes, “Just being alive at this time with everything that’s going on and all of the developments in music technology, keeps me busy and on my toes!”


Shanachie Entertainment

Jeff Lorber: Keyboards and Synth Bass
Jimmy Haslip: Electric Bass
Gary Novak: Drums
David Mann: Horn Arrangement/Performance
Paul Jackson Jr.: Guitar and Guitar Solo

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