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Jeff Lorber Fusion – Step It Up

Sept. 1, 2015

The fiery, smoky groove of fusion as concocted by Jeff Lorber Fusion (JLF) is once again unleashed on receptive ears as it pushes out its latJLHest project Step It Up (which appears to be exactly what it has done), due to be released on September 25.

Along with keys guru/producer Lorber and bassist/co-producer, a couple of members of The Yellowjackets join their former bandmate Haslip (saxman Bob Mintzer and guitarist Robben Ford), along with drummers Vinnie Colaiuta, Ash Sloan, and Gary Novak; saxman Gary Meek; guitarists Paul Jackson Jr.; and renowned percussionist Lenny Castro help keep the fire burning here. David Mann is also present, contributing his amazing horn arrangements.

When you talk JLF, one knows that this is no new idea for Lorber. This imaginative mix of bebop/funk/R&B/rock goes back to the 70s.

Prior to this new release and its predecessor Hacienda, JLF released Now Is the Time in 2010 and Galaxy in 2012. As Lorber and Haslip began working on Step It Up, they realized that they were heading to some new places in their music.

Lorber says, “I’m always writing new stuff and I got together with Jimmy to play him some of the music I was working on. My compositions were a bit diverse, and Jim suggested focusing more. We came up with the idea of 70s modal jazz.”

Inspired by the work of Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, and others, the two artists drew conceptually from the influential output of these legends, filtering in their own sensibilities. Once done, they realized that they had that modal thread running through the music, and here is the result.

Hot, full of body, and character, every tune from the funky lead track “Get Up” to the slick, pronounced title track and finale, this album has to be a complete source of pride for the duo. There isn’t a disappointing track to be found here. In fact, this may be their best offering to date, in my opinion.

Lorber and Haslip have so much about which they can boast (but never do) from work with others, individual efforts, to JLF. It is truly exciting to simply sit back and listen to the movement of genius and creativity as it sets out to claim your musical senses. – Ronald Jackson