Jeff Lorber Fusion – Hacienda

Aug. 7, 2013

Fusion fans, here we go! Jeff Lorber Fusion is back kicking some serious butt with their upcoming release Hacienda, due out on Aug. 27. Packed with an outrageous energy level and highly appealing melodies and runs, this band again delivers. With Lorber on keys and, of course, production,  Jimmy Haslip co-producing and giving the bass hell, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta serving up solid rhythms and clever timing, you are immediately drawn into just how good fusion should be played and defined.   Other guests include Eric Marienthal, Larry Koonse, Paul Jackson Jr., Dave Weckl, Lenny Castro, and David Mann.

The lead track, ”Corinaldo,” and the track immediately following that titled “Solar Wind” (with Koonse) set up this album — and you — for one crazy-good, rousing listening adventure.

Stepping off the pedal just a bit, the cover of Frank Zappa’s “King Kong,” with renowned violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, shows off Lorber at his usual best as well as offering balance with that Ponty irresistible style. With this piece, you are reminded of the longevity and potency of fusion.  Jazz-fusion guitarists like Mike Stern and Al DiMeola, and even progressive rock groups like Yes, can surely relate to the relevance of JLF.

Settling into a strolling pace, “The Steppe” lays back a tad while saxman Marienthal gives his typical all on scale work.

The title track is a happy little up-tempo romp with a cool hook and everybody firing on all cylinders. I have often found that, in addition to appreciating Lorber’s work, I sit transfixed on Haslip’s runs and how effortlessly he delivers and works so well with Colaiuta and vice versa. Also, the sax work of Marienthal is again hot and totally fitting for this jam.

“Fab Gear” has a cool mid-tempo fusion/R&B thing going on. Listening carefully, you can hear an Earth, Wind and Fire “That’s the Way of the World” kind of cadence.  That is the only common denominator, however. This is purely a Lorber composition.  For me, the masterful horn arrangement and a hot hook are the standouts on this piece.

I could go on and on about this fusion gem, but, in a nutshell, it’s the kind of material on which fusion fans can hang their collective hats.  Since returning to his early fusion leanings, Lorber hasn’t missed a beat and I seriously doubt that he’s lost any of the “smooth” jazz crowd, either.  The airtight cohesion between these top-shelf JLF members is something at which all jazzers should marvel.  – Ronald Jackson

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