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Jeff Lorber

Jazzed Magazine • July 2010What's on Your Playlist? • July 9, 2010

Jeff LorberA key figure in fusion and contemporary jazz for over 30 years, keyboardist/composer Jeff Lorber draws upon his background in RB, rock, and other idioms to create a musical voice that’s distinctly his own.

With the Jeff Lorber Fusion, he toured the world in the ’80s and scored a Best RB Instrumental Grammy nomination for the wildly popular track, “Pacific Coast Highway.” 1991’s Worth Waiting For was Lorber’s first official solo release and, in the years since, he’s continued to make an impact as a performer, recording artist, and producer.

2010’s Now is the Time finds Jeff revisiting his own past, with creative reworkings of some of the Jeff Lorber Fusion’s most compelling tracks.

1. “Chicken Grease” D’Angelo

This is one of the funkiest grooves ever. The live version from “The Chris Rock Show” is awesome, also. Very relaxed, in the pocket playing always sounds fresh and makes you want to move when you listen.

2.”Ponte De Areia” Esperanza Spaulding

Fantastic composition by Wayne Shorter and an equally inspired interpretation, with a very cool groove and some very creative reharmonization. I’ve had a chance to see Esperanza a few times and she shows tremendous talent for such a young player.

3.”Heart’s Desire” Donald Blackman

He only made one record… for GRP in the ’80s, but it’s a great one. Super funky groove and very jazzy, pretty irresistible, with a very fun, Monk-inspired solo.

4.”Bye-Ya” Thelonious Monk

This was one of the first jazz records that I ever heard. My cousin gave it to me when I was about eight years old. Monk’s music has a joy, unpredictability, simplicity, and humor that’s completely unique. I love the funky rhythms and angular melodic movement.

5. “To Beat or Not to Beat” Horace Silver

Another great piano icon who’s music is full of life and joy. When I was a music student at Berklee trying to understand the complexity of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea’s music, I started to explore the history of jazz piano. Horace stood out as a pianist whose music I could really get into and also understand.

6. “Rock and Roll Doctor” Little Feat

I’m a huge fan of the blues and especially the funky swampy blues approach of Lowell George. The rhythmic feel of this band and Lowell’s phrasing, guitar playing, and production are amazing.

7. “Nocturnal Sunshine” MeShell Ndegeocello

This is a fantastic track produced by David Gamson of Scritti Pollitti fame, featuring some inspired improvization from Herbie Hancock and backed up by MeShell, Harvey Mason and Wah Wah Watson.

8. “Help I’m a Rock” Frank Zappa

When I first heard this on the radio, when I was about 1, it completely blew me away. This funny, crazy track is a good reminder about how creative and outrageous music can be.

9. “Love Disease” Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Great track from a band that probably didn’t get the recognition they deserved. Great solo from a young David Sanborne.

10. “Chinese Medicinal Herbs” Jeff Lorber Fusion

I do listen to my own music, of course. I’m really happy with the way this particular track turned out Fantastic drumming by Dave Weckl and a very nice solo from Larry Koonse.

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