It was in 2010, with the CD ‘Now Is The Time’, that Jeff Lorber revisited the sound that he had helped to pioneer. This return to jazz-fusion was heralded with critical acclaim to the extent that the follow-up, ‘Galaxy’, was released in 2011 and ‘Hacienda’ followed three years later.
The Jeff Lorber Fusion is typified by its inherent funk driven energy and how the core protagonists of Lorber and Jimmy Haslip are often supplemented by a veritable who’s who of jazz talent. This is certainly the case with the collective’s latest project, the high octane ‘Prototype’ where the likes of Nathan East, Andy Snitzer, Paul Jackson Jr., Chuck Loeb, Dave Mann, Michael Thompson, Larry Koonse and Gary Novak are all variously around to lend a hand.
A case in point is the jazzy ‘Vienna’ where Snitzer on sax comes up big and Larry Koonse provides a memorable guitar solo. Elsewhere, Fusion fans everywhere will relate to the pulsating ‘Hyperdrive’ where Dave Mann’s horn arrangements have never sounded better and when Lorber backs off the gas just a little for ‘The Badness’, it is another rich horn arrangement from Mann that proves to be the icing on an extremely funky cake.
Mann is also to the fore with ‘Hidden Agenda’ for which the band gets on a melodic roll and stays there while equally good, ‘Park West’ glides along on a decidedly streetwise vibe to provide the perfect platform for Lorber’s dexterity on keys.
The big, ‘in your face,’ title cut is another number that aptly describes the essence of JLF and although ‘What’s The Deal’ is in similar mode, if there was one track that best describes what ‘The Fusion’ is all about then it would be the intensely rhythmic ‘Gucci’ where everything comes together in the most magical of ways.
The velvety big band attitude of ‘Test Drive’ has something of a retro feel to it and later it is with the richly contemplative ‘River Song’ that Lorber brings down the curtain on this quality collection.
There is little doubt that this is a recording the fans of the Jeff Lorber Fusion will absolutely clamor for. For those new to its music this is a wonderful place to start.