Mar. 13, 2017
A quote from keyboardist/producer/composer/fusion legend Jeff Lorber regarding his latest Jeff Lorber Fusion release, Prototype: “I came up with the name Prototype because we are always trying to up our game and come up with new exciting music that could be a prototype or innovative harbinger for the future of our musical style.” In addition to this saying it all, his press sheet points out all too accurately that this new release is an example of Lorber’s “irresistible finger-poppin’ grooves and intricate rhythmic sense.” The full-bodied, sophisticated, groove-laden project is another work of art from one who always relishes the appeal of the new “polish” of creativity with each work. This is jazz with substance and shine – the stuff jazz neophytes live to learn how to naturally produce.
Since Lorber returned to his solid fusion roots a few releases ago, he’s not looked back. Oh, there could be plenty of reason to do so if you recall the smooth jazz gems like Philly Style, Midnight, Flipside, Kickin’ It, Heard That, and so much more – but his early fusion brand never ever really faded out, and reviving it again was as natural as walking, I’m sure. His legions of fusion fans and smooth jazz fans alike are still as abundant as ever as the appeal of a Lorber project simply eliminates the need to split hairs over what type of jazz he’s playing. It’s all top-tier stuff.
There are plenty of tracks to single out for their precise, meticulous production and phrasing (like “Hyperactive” featuring the magnificent and iconic bassist Nathan East, the title track featuring some hot sax action from veteran saxman Andy Snitzer and blistering lead guitar work toward the end of the track from Michael Thompson, some smokin’ rock guitar chops on “Test Drive” from none other than Lorber himself, the snappy, keys- and sax-busy “What’s the Deal,” the slick and steady light R&Bish “Hidden Agenda,” and loads more.
In addition to the core group of Lorber, Yellowjackets founder and bassist Jimmy Haslip, and drummer Gary Novak – and in addition to the guests previously mentioned here, Lorber gets help from guitarists Chuck Loeb, Paul Jackson Jr., and Larry Koonse, and saxman/horn arranger Dave Mann, among others. Each artist brings his own stroke of genius to the album and helps it to strut proudly.
You can never go wrong with a Jeff Lorber project, and this one is no exception. Try it on for size. Should be a guaranteed fit. – Ronald Jackson