Jeff Lorber Fusion – Now is the TIme
| Jeff Lorber Fusion
Now is the TIme
Heads Up – 2010
By the late 1970s, keyboardist and composer Jeff Lorber had become a prominent figure in the new movement known as jazz fusion – a marriage of traditional jazz with elements of rock, R&B, funk and other electrified sounds. Lorber and his band, the Jeff Lorber Fusion, first honed their craft in the Portland, Oregon, club scene and rapidly expanded their reach to a national and international audience via a combination of complex harmonies, unconventional time signatures and compelling rhythms.
In subsequent years, Lorber dropped the term “fusion” from his billing as the movement evolved into what is currently known as contemporary jazz. Still, he continued to explore the innovative, improvisational potential of grafting other musical forms to the jazz idiom.
More than three decades after his earliest recordings, Lorber has come full circle. The album delves back into his early catalog and reinvents some of the most compelling compositions from the Jeff Lorber Fusion heyday. As a result, the artist once again makes a bold statement in the evolution of jazz.
This new incarnation of the Jeff Lorber Fusion includes luminaries like bassist Jimmy Haslip (who co-produced with Lorber and Bobby Colomby), saxophonist Eric Marienthal, trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., and drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl.
“We all had a vision of what we wanted this record to be,” says Lorber, who points to a recent European tour with many of these same musicians – and the positive response that resulted from it – as the primary catalyst for the album. “We wanted a return to the sound of the Jeff Lorber Fusion, but informed by everything I’ve learned since then. All of a sudden, people seem to be interested in hearing that again. They’re ready to hear musicians who can really play, really stretch the envelope with their technique, with their songwriting, and with harmonic structure.”
Stretching the envelope has been Lorber’s strategy from the very beginning. Born in Philadelphia in 1952, Lorber began playing piano when he was just four years old. By his teen years, he had hooked up with several local R&B bands, but his tastes trended more toward jazz when he studied at Berklee College of Music.
After college, he relocated to Portland, Oregon, where he formed the Jeff Lorber Fusion. The group released their self-titled debut album in 1977, and quickly became one of the most popular acts in the jazz fusion scene, due in large part to relentless touring and a string of artistically daring and commercially successful recordings.
“This record is a clear statement,” he says. “It represents a real musical shift toward something a little jazzier, and a little more exciting. The title has a very positive thrust to it, and it evokes a certain sense of being serious and taking charge.”