Monday, January 21, 2008
Jeff Lorber Fusion
Once again, I had no idea who Jeff Lorber was, but, Wizard Island was one cool album cover, the credits said he played a moog, and I had made a conscious decision to spend my my food money on record albums........now that's a diet more people ought to follow! Once again, it was 1980, that formative time of innocent discovery, early on, in my Jazz education. Very few artists have had that immediate affect upon me, the way Lorber and his group did that sunny fall afternoon, when I dropped the needle on that first track. JLF was tight, great acoustic piano complimented by cool synthesiser, funkified bass/guitar/drums, and some kid on saxes and flute- who would go to sell a gazillion albums under his own name and pretty much be vilified for doing so. Personally, I think Kenny G's best work was while he was with JLG, and as with most things in life, all the criticism he's taken isn't totally with merit. As I'm known to do, once I stumble upon an artist I like, I have to go get the rest of the recordings by them, so that meant finding out what else Jeff lorber had out, at that time - which lead me to Water Sign. Over the years, listening and re-listening, making cassettes for my Walkman or the car; searching down the Japanese CD's, and ultimately transferring the music to my ipod, I think Water Sign is Lorber's best recording, out of a discography of strong albums. The only real difference in personnel between these two releases, which are just a year apart and both on Arista, is Kenny G, who didn't join the band until Wizard Island - don't get me wrong, I don't feel Water Sign is better because the G man isn't on it. I just feel that Lorber's synth work is more adventurous, and I'm a sucker for flute, which seems to be more prominent on this album. Over the years, Lorber has exhibited a knack for discovering and working with some very incredible reed players; and it's good to see him still going strong, some 28 years after first discovering that 'cool' album cover; by the way; later this month, a group by the name Afro Elements, which has ties to Down To The Bone, releases their debut album, It Remains To be Seen, look at the album cover - it's the exact same as Wizard Island, what's that saying about imitation and flattery! (www.afroelements.com). Listen to the title cuts, 'Wizard Island' and 'Water Sign'.