I Happened To Hear 09/2013

I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how long I’ve been listening – and enjoying – music from the Jeff Lorber Fusion in its various lineups. It’s always sounded different and distinctive to my ears. When Kenny G went off to do something altogether smoother, Jeff kept the groove alive. On this latest record – which is in some measure a shout out to the legendary dance club of the same name in Manchester, England, the funk is still much in evidence.

The band’s name is ‘Fusion’ though and you jazz lovers will enjoy how Jeff stretches out on the opener “Corinaldo”. Eric Marienthal, unusually on tenor sax, sounds fantastic. Guitarist Larry Koonse will similarly delight fans of precise finger work on the busy “Solar Wind”. Did you expect to hear a Frank Zappa song on here? Well, “King Kong” is the album’s only cover and the record’s fusion credentials go up a notch with the involvement of violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. In my head, I made a note ‘sounds like Return to Forever on great form’. What else can I say?

There are mellower moments on “The Steppe”, which features a lovely acoustic piano sound and a sound very reminiscent of Yellowjackets – with Jimmy Haslip on bass it’s not such a surprise. “Playa del Falco” cleverly switches time signatures and the interplay between electric piano and soprano sax is particularly enjoyable.

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