Contemporary Jazz

Magical Fusion

04 JUN 10 JONATHAN WIDRAN

In another space and time, before the word "smooth" took over and began to define a format of instrumental music, Jeff Lorber launched his career by embarking on a jazzy and grooving musical adventure -- a magical, influential place of origin he brilliantly re-imagines on Jeff Lorber Fusion's Heads Up debut Now Is The Time.

The keyboardist/composer recorded his first two albums for Inner City records: The Jeff Lorber Fusion (1977) and Soft Space (1978). Lorber fondly refers to the wealth of music he created on his six popular Arista albums from 1979-1985 (which led to his first Grammy nomination for Best R&B instrumental for "Pacific Coast Highway" in 1985) as "second generation fusion." After the heyday of Jeff Lorber Fusion -- a band which featured a then little known sax player named Kenny G -- Lorber began producing and mixing for pop artists before establishing himself as a popular solo performer in the '90s and 2000s.

Now Is The Time delves back into his early catalog and reinvents his favorite tunes from his Fusion heyday with contemporary players who have similarly expanded the boundaries of modern jazz: Jimmy Haslip (who co-produced the set with Bobby Colomby), Eric Marienthal, Randy Brecker, Paul Jackson Jr., Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl. The opening track "Rain Dance" also features vocals by Irene B and brass by the Blood, Sweat & Tear horns.

While Lorber has long been a consummate songwriter, "Mysterious Traveler" was written by Wayne Shorter during his time with Weather Report. Other tracks representing vintage and still fresh Lorber are "Black Ice" and the offbeat, 7/4 signature-driven "Chinese Medicinal Herbs."

in this playlist.