I had the pleasure, along with my recording, biz partner, and friend, Dan, in seeing Jeff Lorber Fusion at Rams Head On Stage, in Annapolis, MD tonite.
The tour is to showcase tunes from his Grammy nominated release “Now Is The Time”, a CD that brings back the feel of the world renowned hits from the days of the original Jeff Lorber Fusion, and a great CD it is.
It’s always a pleasure to see Jeff when he comes to town, whether he is the solo act on the bill or as part of another tour (saw him in ’09 as part of the Guitar and Saxes Tour). The show started promptly at 8pm to a full, and enthusiastic house. The band was a quartet comprised of the following musicians:
Though I would have loved to see the original studio musicians, Will Kennedy and Jimmy Haslip (drums and bass, respectively), of The Yellowjackets, this band tonite was tight!
The opening tune was Water Sign from the 1979 release, Water Sign. Effortlessly executed, it was a great number to open up with. Jeff’s Yamaha S90 ES keyboard sounded great throughout the entire concert.
Following Water Sign, was Chinese Medicinal Herbs, also from the Soft Space release. Of course, the concert versions are always on point. Very nice flow on this live rendition, capturing the feeling of the original recording and the re-release on Now Is The Time.
The third track in the set was Dr. Moy, from the current release. Again, nicely done. Mark Prince, a DC native, was smokin’ on drums. They all did a show last night at DC’s Blues Alley, and Jeff mentioned that it was only Mark’s second time working out with them (surely Jeff was being facetious…hah!).
I played in a band once that did a few Jeff Lorber cover tunes, cause we are all big fans. The next song in the set is one, after hearing it, made us “just say no” hahah! Surreptitious, from the release He Had A Hat, was flat out “hot” (understandably so, since Jeff introduced it as being a favorite of his). This one had people moving, despite its fast tempo.
The famous Toad’s Place was the next track. Always a crowd pleaser, this was very nice. Eric Marienthal has done tons of session and tour work with Jeff, and was the sax player for Chick Corea’s Elektric Band for years. Now THAT’S a lot of fusion!
The track that followed, Mysterious Traveler, is from the recent release and was definitely a nice add to the set list. Ron Jenkins sounded great on this tune.
The next selection was The Underground, from one of my favorite JL CD’s, Worth Waiting For. I was glad to hear them do this one, and though it wasn’t one of my favorites from that CD, I’m was glad to see them rep a track from that release.
Those who are Jeff Lorber fans may have heard about the day he was driving down the street and heard his tune under a rap track – the artists Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Cease and The Notorious B.I.G. (better known as Junior M.A.F.I.A), from Lil’ Kim’s debut release The track is “Crush On You” (1997).
Of course, the original version was all class, and to top it off, it was actually a medley with JL’s cover of Rufus and Chaka Khan’s hit, Ain’t Nobody. The crowd was up once again, giving a standing ovation to the official end of the set.
Of course, their had to be an encore. They came back to do The Samba and Tune 88 from the releases, Soft Space and Water Sign, respectively.
I got a chance to chat with Jeff for a minute after the show. Always cordial to converse with the fans, we got a chance to talk about the recent show in CT, which I was trying to get to, but didn’t make it. Jeff and I share a mutual friend Donna Talbot, a personal friend of Jeff’s, a FB friend of mine, who is a HUGE smooth jazz fan. I mentioned that I was supposed to be up for that show, and he says, “Oh yeah, she told me u were coming…”. Cool guy.
If you are a fan of very cool, contemporary jazz with fusion undertones, I highly suggest you catch Jeff Lorber in concert. You will NOT be disappointed.
::: oceans of rhythm :::