Friday, September 19, 2008

Jeff Lorber | "Heard That"

On Heard That, his Peak Records debut, Lorber keeps the soulful momentum going, collaborating brilliantly on pop, jazz, R&B and blues-influenced tracks--and even harkening back a bit to his early 80s Fusion heyday--with one of urban jazz’s top hit makers and sonic architects, Rex Rideout. Over three decades after breaking ground as leader of the pioneering Jeff Lorber Fusion, the Philly-born and bred composer, producer and keyboard legend is still keeping the vibes fresh and the grooves funky.

Highlighted by the first single, a swinging, bluesy-brass twist on Amy Winehouse’s Grammy winning “Rehab,” Heard That features a typically vibrant Lorber all-star guest list, including trumpet great Rick Braun, guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., saxman Gary Meek, bassist Alex Al, trumpeter Ron King, guitarist Darrell Crooks and Peak labelmates, saxman Gerald Albright. Lorber has been touring all throughout 2008 as part of Guitars & Saxes with Albright, Peak labelmate Jessy J, Jeff Golub and Peter White.

As high charting, pop-jazz oriented releases like West Side Stories (1994), State of Grace (1996) and Midnight (1998) were establishing him as one of the genre’s top artists, Lorber also became an in demand producer. Every artist looking for a hit melody and groove, from Albright to Eric Marienthal, Richard Elliot and David Benoit, tapped his behind the board talents.

On his later projects, Lorber sought new inspiration himself by collaborating with other producers. Kickin’ It (2001), Philly Style (2003) and 2005’s Grammy nominated Flipside, the keyboardist partnered with fellow first call producer Steven Dubin. Leaning more jazzy on his eclectic 2007 date He Had A Hat,(which earned him his third Grammy nomination) he worked with legendary Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer and Chris Botti producer Bobby Colomby. Eager to return to his trademark R&B sound when he signed with Peak, Lorber immediately sought out Rideout, who has lent his Midas touch over the past ten years to a virtual who’s who of contemporary jazz and soul instrumentalists and vocalists: Albright, Elliot, Boney James, Paul Taylor, Kirk Whalum, Maysa, Will Downing, Lalah Hathaway and Ledisi. Lorber first worked with Rideout when he produced his track “For You To Love” on the popular 2006 Luther Vandross Tribute Forever, For Always, For Luther, Vol. 2.

While most of Lorber’s previous recordings exclusively feature him on piano, Wurlitzer, Hammond B-3, Fender Rhodes and synthesizers, the spirit of the sessions for Heard That allowed him to share the keys with Rideout, most notably on the old school soul-jazz jam opener “Come On Up” (highlighted by a swirl of Rhodes and piano with the Ron King/Gary Meek horn section and a crackling Paul Jackson, Jr. guitar solo); the cool, slow jam soul ballad “You Got Something” (which they wrote with featured vocalist Phillip “Taj” Jackson); the wild and soaring, brassy funk/fusion explosion not called “The Bomb” for nothing!; and the sensual vocal track “Take Control,” which blends a thick funk ballad rhythm and dark keyboard chordings with co-writer Lauren Evans’ vocals.

So as you’re grooving along to Jeff Lorber’s Peak Records debut, shout it out as loud as you can: I Heard That!

Tracklisting (* Audio streams)
1. Come On Up
2.* Rehab
3.* Don't Hold Back
4. You Got Something
5. Gamma Rays
6. Don’t Stop
7. The Bomb
8. Take Control
9. Night Sky
10. Heard That

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