Legendary Fusion Master Jeff Lorber leads All-Star Group at Nighttown!
Featuring: Jeff Lorber-piano & keys, Jimmy Haslip-bass, & Gary Novak-drums.
Jeff Lorber Fusion, whose previous release Hacienda was praised for its “impeccable musicianship and deep grooves” by JazzTimes and its “funky, rollicking jams” by All About Jazz, returns on September 25, 2015, with Step It Up on Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group. The fourth consecutive collaboration between GRAMMY®-nominated keyboardist/composer/producer Jeff Lorber and GRAMMY®-winning bassist/composer/ producer Jimmy Haslip since the two virtuosos reactivated Jeff Lorber Fusion five years ago, Step It Up features 11 new Lorber compositions, several co-written with Haslip. The longtime colleagues also co-produced the recording.
The title Step It Up, says Lorber, “reflects the music: optimistic, energetic and an attempt to ‘step up’ our game—our compositions, production and improvisation—to the next level. This record puts us back in a more familiar Jeff Lorber Fusion groove while we explore some new uncharted areas.”
“We were motivated to find a new direction following Hacienda,” adds Haslip. “That one was a full-on experimental recording. Step It Up is more inside the Jeff Lorber Fusion box but has some new and interesting twists.”
“I’m always writing new stuff and I got together with Jimmy to play him some of the music I was working on,” says Lorber. “My compositions were a bit diverse and Jim suggested focusing more. We came up with the idea of ’70s modal jazz.” Inspired by the classic recordings of such greats as Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Lee Morgan, Joe Henderson and Weather Report, Lorber and Haslip followed their collective muse, drawing conceptually from the influential output of those legends but filtering it all through their own sensibilities—several of the co-written tunes developed directly out of bass parts Haslip had created.
Both Lorber and Haslip are quick to heap praise upon the other for his vital contributions to the final product. With decades of expertise between them in every area of composing, playing and recording, they know each other’s strengths inside out. “I’m more of a detail guy and Jimmy is more of a big picture guy,” says Lorber, who plays Fender Rhodes, Moog, mini-Moog and piano on the album. “He helps a lot with figuring out which musicians we might call to complement and develop the songs (in this case Bob Mintzer and Robben Ford).”
Adds Haslip, “Jeff and I have really good chemistry and we have a lot in common with a love of many different styles of music. So together, we form a strong, positive union of ideas and creative energy.”
Never has that chemistry been more evident than on Step It Up. Where they will head next from here is anybody’s guess, but both Jeff and Jimmy are excited about the possibilities. Says Lorber, “I think the direction we’ve charted out from the last few records and this one is a creative, positive one. These records have been about combining the old and new, taking the original Jeff Lorber Fusion sound of funky fusion with bebop and R&B elements and reaching both forward and backward to explore new territory. There’s a renewed sense of exploration, harmonic and melodic adventure and jazziness. The idea of fusion seems fresh again.”