If the word “fusion” is a dirty word don’t tell Jeff Lorber. The keyboard wizard is still playing it loud n’ proud some 37 years after he showed up on the scene. 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)
Record Label: Heads Up International
This review originally appeared at All About Jazz.com
- ‘Hacienda’ tribute to Zappa works; rest doesn’t (triblive.com)
- Famed Saxophonist Eric Marienthal Joins Grand Tradition’s Festival JAZZ AND WINE IN THE GARDENS in Fallbrook (temeculagrapevine.wordpress.com)
- Lorber and company wow Dakota Jazz Club crowd (tcdailyplanet.net)