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 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! ( Listen to the title cuts, 'Wizard Island' and 'Water Sign'.


mr.gone said...

Hi, Simon from Mr.Gone/Afro Elements here. Glad you spotted our new album - yes, a bit of a homage to Jeff really!! I reworked the original with Jeff's blessing, who also found it quite hilarious (and Ria Lewerke who did it originally). In case you don't already know, Jeff Lorber appears on the album. He also features on another track on the Japanese only version of the album.

jzyjohn said...

Simon, I knew Jeff was on the album, read it on your site, can't wait to get it, hope it will be available as a download from either itunes, emusic or amazon. Thanks for noticing my blog - once I get you release I plan on reviewing it for contemporary jazz, thanks.

jzyjohn said...

Simon, by the way, I've got the Mr Gone release as well

mr.gone said...

Hi again. I'm not sure if the album will be on iTunes, but the 7" single is. The album came out on Monday 21st and is indeed available on amazon, along with all the other usual outlets. I'm glad to hear you'll be reviewing it! I produced another album for someone a couple of years ago under the name Black Gold Massive (the name wasn't my idea...). More on the soul tip, but featuring many of the musicians on the afro album.