On Sunday, 29 September, I had the good fortune of seeing The Jeff Lorber Fusion, with Mike Stern on guitar. They are on tour promoting the new release “Eleven”, which officially dropped on 27 September, if memory serves me correctly.
The band consisted of the following:
- Jeff Lorber – keyboards
- Dennis Chambers – Drums
- Jimmy Haslip . Bass
- Mike Stern – Guitar
I just happened to check the comments on Jeff’s Instagram feed Friday afternoon and said to myself “Let’s see what their tour stops are”. Ironically enough, they had already played the first of four nights here in DC at Blues Alley, so immediately I was excited. I called my wife to see if she wanted to go but she opted out as the Saturday night 8pm set was sold out. Checked with my buddy to see if he wanted to swing, but he was booked, so I flew solo to the 8pm set on Sunday.
Traffic was a bit backed up (of course, after realizing I took the long way), but I got there 45 minutes earlier AND was able to park on the street during a busy, bustling, warm Sunday night in Georgetown, so that was a nice surprise (and convenient such as it wasn’t a far walk to the club and I didn’t have to pay for garage parking).
When I got in, the place, nicely intimate, was already crowded. Fortunately I got a good seat (I’m not even sure there’s a bad seat in the house, actually). After ordering dinner, and leisurely enjoying it, Jeff walks out and past my table to the piano and synth. He sets up his iPad on the piano and flips through some of the pages, making small talk with some folks at a table basically right in front of him. Next out to the stage is Mike Stern…warming up on his guitar, also making small talk with those at adjacent tables. Third out is Jimmy Haslip, center stage, tuning up his bass. Last out, finally, is Dennis Chambers, who I really couldn’t see because of the location of his drum set on stage.
After management announces no use of portable devices, recording is prohibited, please keep your voices to a whisper, etc, etc, the show begins, with Jeff introducing the band. I’ll list the selections I remember, as I can. Post intro, the first selection is my current favorite and the first track from the new CD, “Righteous”. Being that this is Blues Alley, the acoustics are fantastic, so of course, this skilled set of musicians sounded great. All the dynamics and nuances were clear for this intimate setting. I feel it was the perfect track to start with, based on how the tune flows.
Next selection was entitled “Jones Street”. I initially thought this was a newly written track for the release, but it turns out it’s remake of Mike’s original song on his 1977 album, “Give and Take” (I’ll have to give this a listen as well). During this selection, Jimmy launches into this NICE bass solo, probably for about 24 to 32 bars. It’s a deep, growling, funky tune which really sounded great. Later in the song, Dennis Chambers, oh my goodness, also took a solo for about 32 bars. I;ve heard Dennis before and found out about this DC legend when I moved here 30 years ago. The solo was HOTTTT! By the time they finished the tune, the round of applause was long.
Later in the set, they peformed the last track on the CD, “Runner”. I like this track a lot as well, and could tell before even hearing it on the CD, that it was a nice, grooving tune. Dennis and Mike traded off on a very nice break where at one point, Dennis must have gone through playing jazz, funk, straight-ahead, and calypso genres before he was done – the band was masterful at keeping count before they all came back in for the outro.
If I remember correctly, they did about seven or eight tunes and ended with a crankin’ blues tune that may have been another one from Mike’s album. Whichever it was, it was a nice rendition. The set lasted for a little over and hour.
After the set was done, more small talk by Jeff with the table in front of him. After he was done, he passed by my table and we chatted for a minute, which always is a pleasure I’ve gotten when I get a chance to catch him in town. This has been the fourth time since 2001.
I was hoping to catch Jimmy and Dennis for autographs but they, with Jeff, slipped backstage, leaving Mike at the head of a long line at the exit, to sign CDs. I finally got up there, with still a long line behind me, to chat a moment and have him sign mine. He’s a personable, warm, engaging guy and it was nice to get a moment to take with this Grammy award winning, highly respected guitarist in the recording industry for decades.
Seeing such a superb set of musicians at a great spot made me appreciate, even more, being a. guitarist and band member in multiple groups for decades as well. Check lorber.com for all info on the new release.
Thanks for the read, stay well.
::: oceans of rhythm :::