… Hacienda by the Jeff Lorber Fusion
almost embarrassed to tell you how long I’ve been listening – and
enjoying – music from the Jeff Lorber Fusion in its various lineups.
It’s always sounded different and distinctive to my ears.
When Kenny G went off to do something altogether smoother, Jeff
kept the groove alive. On
this latest record – which is in some measure a shout out to the
legendary dance club of the same name in
The band’s name is ‘Fusion’ though and you jazz lovers
will enjoy how Jeff stretches out on the opener “Corinaldo”.
Eric Marienthal, unusually on tenor sax, sounds fantastic.
Guitarist Larry Koonse will similarly delight fans of precise
finger work on the busy “Solar Wind”.
Did you expect to hear a Frank Zappa song on here?
Well, “King Kong” is the album’s only cover and the record’s
fusion credentials go up a notch with the involvement of violinist
Jean-Luc Ponty. In my head,
I made a note ‘sounds like Return to Forever on great form’.
What else can I say?
There are mellower moments on “The Steppe”, which
features a lovely acoustic piano sound and a sound very reminiscent of
Yellowjackets – with Jimmy Haslip on bass it’s not such a surprise.
“Playa del Falco” cleverly switches time signatures and the
interplay between electric piano and soprano sax is particularly
no further than the eminently danceable title track, the muscular
“Escapade” with its big, phat horns and my personal favourite, the
ridiculously catchy “Raptor” – you’ll catch yourself dancing to it, and
whistling the chorus. Trust
This record has a mellower, more organic sound than many of Lorber’s earlier albums and I’ve felt his music moving this way for the last few releases. I like this ‘looseness’ and I think “Hacienda” is going to make Jeff lots of friends.
… HandPicked by Earl Klugh
been five years since “The Spice of Life” and this record marks a return
to the spellbinding simplicity I first heard on 1976’s “Blue Note Live
at the Roxy”, where his 14-minute medley kept a lively crowd hushed.
This is a mostly solo set and, as a result, it’s easy to enjoy the
distinctive warm and woody sound of Earl’s guitar.
Earl plays fingerstyle and so the title refers as much to his
playing style as it does to his choice of standards to show that style
off. What is there to say
about songs such as “Lullaby of Birdland”, “Blue Moon” and “Round
Midnight”? They are treated
with the reverence that they deserve – and that you’d expect.
While Earl looks back at years of his favourite music, he’s also
looking at songs that have been precious to me personally, such as “Cast
Your Fate to the Wind” and “Goin’ Out of my Head”.
Now this isn’t to say that you’ll be lulled into a dream.
The treatment of “Hotel California” here surprises and delights
me. Take a rock anthem and
give it some flamenco light and shade, develop that over eight minutes
and you’ve created a piece of magic.
Don’t miss it.
Earl Klugh fans – you know what to expect. Or do you?
… Pulse by Steve Cole
confess to having heard relatively little of
If there is still such a thing as a “smooth jazz radio format” in 2013
(and apologies to anyone whose livelihood centres around it), the title
track and first song is aimed smack-dab at it.
It has all the trademarks; a snappy drum track, solid bass and
the crispest horns you will hear anywhere.
There’s a more old-school feel on “Do Your Thing” which brings
some very welcome soul to the party.
I guess if we’re talking old school, some of the sax lines on my
favourite song “Slinky” remind me of the sound Tom Scott gets on the old
Starsky and Hutch theme. Ah,
so you’re with me now! Know
what, this song gets better with every play.
Any saxman (or woman) worth their salt will kill it on a slow ballad –
and that’s what happens on the bluesy “Going in Circles”.
This has some real soul and it’s a great arrangement.
“Looking Up” ups the tempo and is the light to the previous
song’s dark – the yin to its yang.
It’s a much cleverer juxtaposition than I first realised.
I reckon every album aimed at this market will fare better if it has that killer track that you can’t get out of your head – on this album it’s “Maximum Cool”. This song is a grower. The whole album creeps up on you in fact. It won’t challenge you but it will get your head nodding and your feet tapping. For me, right now, that’s all good.
… Full Circle by Lawson Rollins
month ago I hadn’t heard of guitarist Lawson Rollins.
Looking at his
website tells me that I have some catching up to do
and listening to this new CD is encouragement to do it!
Rollins’ music is described as “world music” so should I be writing
about it here? You could ask
me the same of Acoustic Alchemy, Peter White and Russ Hewitt and the
answer would be a resounding ‘yes’.
The music. One look at the
cover and you know you’ll hear acoustic guitar up front – and so it is.
The energetic opener “Momentum” instantly got me on-side and from
this moment Mr. Rollins could do no wrong.
His sound is clear, his fingerstyle is precise and his runs are
dizzying. Peter White meets
Al Di Meola – well, you get the idea.
World music appropriately describes the gorgeous “Point of
Attraction”, with its flamenco-influenced “palmas”
and its lilting rhythm.
“Pursuit” is a grittier track with many of the same elements as these
two songs but with more urgency.
It has whispers of the Caribbean and a cinematic tinge that keeps
me utterly rapt – and dancing.
Let’s not forget that the best of this type of music can make the
urge to get out of your seat irresistible.
As here. “Serpent’s
Tale” brings in Eastern elements and you won’t be sitting down yet,
especially if you know how to belly-dance!
I’ve mentioned Peter White already and fans of his sound will
find much to like in “Shifting Seasons”, which is pretty beyond telling
(as my wife would say).
Any album which is so influenced by the music legacy of Spain will have its darker, more pensive moments and this side of Rollin’s musical personality is revealed in “The Offering” and the haunting “Promise”. He chooses, as many players do, to end a great record with a plaintive song. It’s written in waltz time and is a tear-jerker. Anyone would be sad at the end of such a great party!