Jeff Lorber Fusion — Galaxy

Jan. 5, 2012

After a delightfully thunderous revival of his early fusion years with the release of Now Is The Time, keyboardist extraordinaire Jeff Lorber returns with Jeff Lorber Fusion and its newest release, Galaxy, due for release on Jan. 31. Seeing this as “a part two” of what he restarted in 2010, Lorber says Galaxy “features the same rhythm section, but it’s even more into the jazz fusion direction. It’s more energetic and the performances are tighter.”

Joining him again is Yellowjackets bassist–and co-producer of this work–Jimmy Haslip, as well as a firestarter crew of luminaries such as Eric Marienthal (sax), Vinnie Colauita (drums), Lenny Castro (percussion), Dave Weckl (drums), Paul Jackson, Jr. (guitar), Larry Koonse (guitar), and Randy Brecker (trumpet).  This winning coalition revisits some of Lorber’s early fusion achievements like “City,” “The Samba,” “Wizard Island,” and “The Underground,” adding a slice of modern flavor to each.

The tracks here are fresh, well-defined (do you ever expect less from Lorber?), and reflective of a period when fusion was truly fusion. It’s also quite expressive with lots of great chops and an unspoken commentary on what really well-conceived jazz sounds like, whether from the modern perspective or from the treasure chest of earlier gems. In either case, Galaxy shows JLF’s grip on the soul of jazz, as well it should, considering that the group helped pioneer and shape fusion.

This is not the R&B-infused jazz that we’ve come to embrace as smooth jazz, as appealing and expressive as that music may be. This is contemporary jazz of a different persuasion—one that reaches back and grabs hold of the memorable experience of creating a bright, tight new direction and feel directly from straight-ahead jazz. In fact, this music can be regarded as the original catalyst for thinking outside the box in interpreting jazz as a whole. Having known both worlds intimately, Lorber brings such a well-rounded and comprehensive viewpoint and style to the genre.

Fusion fans will immediately recognize the dynamics of the JLF sound, and Galaxy does yet more justice to the preservation of this fine art form. – Ronald Jackson

Note: No Amazon MP3 sampler was available at the time of this posting. However, samples are available via the Amazon site. Simply click on the CD cover.