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.
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.
"I have been a fan of all of the records he'd been doing in the urban jazz realm for years. My last album He Had A Hat was more of a serious jazz exploration, and I wanted to get back to more of a hard-hitting, focused, funky, multi-keyboard approach that would be totally today, yet also have some of those jamming fusion flavors and jazzy chord changes like one of my classic songs, â€˜Tune 88' from 1979's â€˜Water Sign,' which is one of my favorite old albums. Songs on Heard That like â€˜The Bomb', â€˜Night Sky' and â€˜Gamma Rays' are heavily influenced by these kind of fun, jazzy chord changes. As we began working on more tracks, we also tapped into a big blues sound on the title tune and â€˜Don't Stop."
Since the late 80s advent of the New Adult Contemporary format, Jeff Lorber has found himself filling a unique dual role. Having played a significant role in developing the late 70's, early 80s R&B-jazz hybrid sound that later evolved into today's smooth jazz, the keyboardist is a true elder statesman of the genre and mentor to many of this generation's top artists. Berklee educated, Jeff Lorber had no specific design in mind when he recorded his first album for Inner City Records, The Jeff Lorber Fusion (1977) and Soft Space (1978) -- both of which have been recently re-issued.
Lorber fondly refers to the wealth of music he created on his six popular Arista albums from 1979-1985 (which led to his first Grammy nomination for Best R&B instrumental for "Pacific Coast Highway" in 1985) as "second generation fusion." In 2000, Arista Records released The Definitive Collection, which gathered the best material from these classic recordings. After the heyday of Jeff Lorber Fusion-a band which featured a then little known sax player named Kenny G, whose first album Lorber produced-the keyboardist produced R&B artists like Karyn White (including her Top Ten hit "Facts of Love") and entered his remixing phase. Getting back into the instrumental groove in the 90s, he produced tracks on Dave Koz's first two albums (and later, 1999's The Dance) and other projects for Eric Marienthal, the late Art Porter and Michael Franks.
Throughout 2004 and 2005, Lorber anchored the immensely popular tribute tour Groovin' For Grover, which featured Gerald Albright throughout its run in addition to stints by Richard Elliot, Paul Taylor and Kirk Whalum. In November, 2004, the keyboardist had a kidney transplant surgery (his wife Mink was a perfect match) after experiencing end stage renal failure due to the genetic condition Polycystic Kidney Disease; he is currently a spokesman for the PKD Foundation. True to his hardworking form, Lorber was back in action within a few weeks, performing gigs and getting back to his popular, weekly three hour radio show Lorber's Place, Sunday nights on Sirius' Satellite Radio's Jazz CafÃ© Channel.
"I'm very grateful to be healthy and having the opportunity to do what I love to do, which is making music," says Lorber. "I think the key to my success and longevity is that I've always had a strong work ethic and the time I spend focusing on writing. Some artists only compose songs when it's time for the next album, but I'm open to inspiration and ideas 24 hours a day, always thinking about harmony, melodies and chords. The best part of recording Heard That was having the chance to work with and become friends and partners with Rex, who generously brought his talent and perspective to the project. Jazz thrives on being a collaborative medium and working with Rex was for me a great opportunity to learn and bring in new ideas."courtesy SFPR/EastWest Media