VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
29 FEB 12 JONATHAN WIDRAN
Fashioned as a follow-up to their 2010 Grammy-nominated set Now Is The Time, the Jeff Lorber Fusion's second Heads Up release Galaxy is titled to bridge the decades between the original JLF and the recently formed current recording and touring ensemble.
Galaxian was the name of that JLF's fifth album, released in 1981. One of contemporary jazz's most versatile and influential keyboardists, Lorber says, "Essentially this album is a part two. It features the same rhythm section, but it's even more into the jazz fusion direction. It's more energetic and the performances are tighter."
A little history is in order: Back in the late-'70s, long before the term "smooth jazz" existed, Lorber was an inventive young musician/composer from Philly whose progressive music would turn out to be a forerunner for the genre he later became a star in. He pulled something of a Blues Brothers in putting the band back together -- albeit with different members, longtime pals all: Eric Marienthal (ably taking the spot the pre-stardom Kenny G had in the original JLF), Jimmy Haslip, Lenny Castro, Randy Brecker, Paul Jackson, Jr., and Vinnie Colaiuta.
Fans of the old JLF have a logical starting point here, with colorful reworkings of popular Lorber classics like "Wizard Island," "City," "The Samba" and the odd metered, joyfully schizophrenic "Underground," which originally appeared on Lorber's early-'90s set Worth Waiting For. Elsewhere, there are a batch of exciting originals, several co-written by Lorber and Haslip. Exploring the new Galaxy, the newfangled JLF runs the gamut from exotic turns like "Singaraja" to a funk-driven tribute to "Horace" Silver.