Norwegian born saxophonist Terje Lie first came into prominence in 2007 with his debut release ‘Traveler’. The title seemed to authenticate his relocation to the contemporary jazz friendly confines of southern California and the album quickly established his credentials as a ‘serious’ musician. Lie’s latest release, ‘Urban Vacation’, that is due to hit record stores on February 16, does nothing to tarnish that reputation but, with the input of Yellowjackets mainstay Jimmy Haslip and the ubiquitous Jeff Lorber, has resulted in a collection that is by far his most commercially appealing to date.
With the exception of the colorful reworking of Roy Ayers ‘Red Black And Green’ the remaining nine tracks are a consequence of the various writing permutations of Lie, Halsip and Lorber. In addition, Haslip and Lorber play on all tracks and produce throughout. With Tony Moore exquisite on drums and guest performances from Mike Landau, Dwight Sills and bass player Ernest Tibbs, ‘Urban Vacation’ really is a collector’s item in the making. Sharon Perry adds soulful vocals and the entire piece is underpinned by the Lorber arranged horn section of Ron King and Gary Meek.
Lie began his career with a blues tinged rock band during high school in Norway. At age seventeen he appeared with them as lead vocalist on Norwegian television and over time became part the country’s scene of up coming jazz musicians. Featuring as both singer and saxophonist, Lie toured Norway, Sweden, and Finland with different bands and appeared on the jazz shows of the Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
‘Urban Vacation’ is replete with funk infused tracks that are often groovy and invariably catchy. In fact any number of them could have been plucked for radio exposure but in the event the first to be so is the opening ‘Bail Out’. Written by Lie and Lorber, it’s fluidly flowing horn arrangements set the tone for much of what is to follow and show off Lie’s penchant for funky driving sax. ‘Blue Funk’ is another Lorber – Lie composition that does much the same while Lorber’s tight keys provide a platform for the infectious, brass enriched, ‘Parlophone’ which is rapidly becoming a real Smooth Jazz Therapy favorite,. The equally captivating ‘Crazy Groove’ finds keyboard antics from Lorber that are nothing short of sensational and as the intensity stays ridiculously high it is the sometimes melodic yet often funky ‘Dance On The Water’ that allows Mike Landau on electric guitar to really shine.
Both the the lusciously brassy ‘So Retro’ and the similarly structured ‘Coral Dream’ provide an enticing flashback to the jazz fusion of the early eighties whilst the sultry ‘Sedona’ gives Lie a rare opportunity to ease down the tempo. The fact he does so with aplomb is due in no small part to a breathtaking solo on acoustic guitar from Landau and Lie remains in mellow mode for his own composition, the reflective ‘Tonight’. It proves to be a wonderful tune with which to close out the album yet, despite the magic that drips from every note, the lasting memory of ‘Urban Vacation’ will be that of funk drenched urgency. This is certainly an album that is worth checking out.
For more on Terje Lie go to www.terjelie.com