Keeping true to the game of jazz &always keeping the flavor of the keyboards in check, we are honored this month to share quality time with Mr. Jeff Lorber! You may remember his hit release back in the 80’s with “Facts Of Love” feat. Karyn White.But there’s more to Mr. Lorber than a hit single. He has a great catalog of projects from back in the day, specializing in the field of Jazz Fusion music & he is currently on the move touring with smooth jazz team ~ Guitars & Saxes ~, as well as promoting his new release on Peak Records, “Heard That”. Pull up a chair & catch the vibe shared between our man, Terrill & Jeff, as they speak much upon Mr. Lorber’s endeavors!
Terrill: In the house – the one and only, Jeff Lorber the man who brought you Kenny G. the man who is definitely out and about. He has the new release “Heard That” and it’s reviewed on The Urban Music Scene. We welcome Jeff in the house. What’s up Mr. Lorber?
Jeff: Thank you, thanks for having me. This sounds great! I can’t wait to talk to you about my new music.
Terrill: Yes, what’s going on with “Heard That”?
Jeff: Well I just got signed to Peak Records, which you know they have been pretty strong working with Concord and Universal music to sign kind of aggressively a lot of the artists in contemporary jazz. I’m always glad to be a part of their family and I got together with Rex Rideout, who is a producer and songwriter – who was recently known for working with Ledisi and producing her debut album and Lalah Hathaway as well. He’s working quite a bit with people like Boney James and Rick Braun. Some of the top contemporary jazz artists. And it was my first time collaborating with another keyboard player like himself, so that was a lot of fun. We got a chance to kind of compare notes about different keyboards and techniques and stuff like that. We just kind of got together and did a nice little sort of combination of blues, jazz, & R&B. You know, it was definitely a strong like funk and R&B kind of style on this record.
Terrill: Actually when we played it back for one of our writers, he did a review on it and he gave it such a high regard – we’re experiencing a lot of click throughs on it, man. You also have a very impressive list of players from Gerald Albright, Rick Braun, Paul Jackson Jr…. what was it like to work on this project with those elite musicians?
Jeff: Well I’ll tell you about living in Los Angeles. Living in L.A. has some bad aspects, pretty good traffic and has some congestion and all that could get pretty crowded. But it’s really a community of musicians, of creative people that’s pretty amazing. There’s so much talent in this town and that’s why I enjoy living here. We got a terrific little rhythm beat (studio) where we cut most of the material live. Mr. Roberts, whose actually from Philly originally, talked about moving out here. He’s a drummer who worked with me a lot on my last few albums. And of course he toured with Jill Scott recently and also I think he should be getting married or something. So …
Jeff: We had Alex Al, who is an amazing bass player, studio player in the studio of course and Darrell Crooks, who I don’t work with. He is a guitar player who has played with Chaka Khan and a lot of other people. So basically we cut a lot of the tracks kind of in one day. Really, in the studio, with the players. You know, the focus of this record wasn’t so much about all the guests. It was about just the writing and coming up with funky grooves and we sort of brought people in as we needed. So they could bring their special talents to flush out these grooves. For example, there’s this song “Gamma Rays”, which is definitely a sort of a real fusion jazz feeling. We got Dave Weckl who’s one of the greatest drummers of our time and we had to get him on that. Mike White who’s the drummer who plays with Maze. Got a terrific kind of funky feel and we had him playing on a couple of tracks with us. I mean these are some people that are behind the scenes, but are really important to help make your record sound good. He’s a recording player, mixer that’s worked on almost all Luther Vandross records, & most of David Sanborn’s albums. We were lucky to get him to mix four songs on the album, which was great. That was my first time working him, but he’s somebody Rex really likes to work with.
Terrill: You’ve been in the game for quite some time Jeff. I mean you’ve been around the block. You’ve seen the ins and outs in the industry with every album you had put out. Always consistent to a certain groove. And with that fusion background and a lot of the R&B, it’s not hard for you to put together anything that smooth man. You are a major catalyst or reason why we think that a lot of people are actually trying to keep up with you in the game, if you know what I mean.
Jeff: I’m always trying to keep it fresh. That’s why I like to collaborate because if I just did everything myself it would kind of sound like the same after a while. So I like to really count on the people who could bring a lot and could bring a certain kind of objectivity to help me develop and expand what I do. That’s what I really enjoy is collaborating and kind of taking my little take on funk and R&B and what I like. Keep the kind of grooves I like and the melodies I come up with and stuff and just sort of explore some different musical territory with
the help of different people that I co-write and collaborate with.
Terrill: One time or another, have you considered going back and producing a project for the sake of the old school fusion sound? Have you ever thought about dabbling in that genre or just kind of putting together some sort of a project geared towards jazz fusion?
Jeff: Well honestly, I think my last, the last record in particular had quite a bit of fusion flavor on it. I mean I really have an affection for that sound and that’s a big part of my musical identity. I’ve been trying to incorporate more of that really and we play a lot of the old music too. We play songs like “Wizard Island”, and you know “Black Ice” and “Katherine”. We try and represent the original fusion and flavor. In addition to that, we got sounds like that time I was mentioning “Gamma Rays”, a new album and on my last record it was surreptitious. It definitely has a real heavy fusion groove to it.
Terrill: What about “Night Sky”?
Jeff: That’s one of my favorites. That’s one we’re playing live and actually on this record, we went back and we found some different grooves from my old records and we sort of borrowed some chords in a song called “Night Sky”, which is from my ‘Wizard Island’ album. We kind of used a little turnaround for that. So that’s why we had to let people know that it was kind of similar. Here’s what’s really interesting about that song is the form, it just has all these different sections. So it keeps it really interesting. We have to go ground solo which I rarely have on any of my records and you know that why it’s so much fun to play live.
Terrill: And speaking of live, are you getting ready to kick off a major tour blast promoting your album?
Jeff: Well, you know, I would like to. This time of year of course, everybody is going out on Christmas tours and things. We have a few listening parties coming up I’m going to be playing actually, the day the record’s release which is the 30th. (October 2008)
Jeff: I’m going to be playing in San Diego at a release party. The day after that, we’re going to go to Sacramento and do the same thing up there. And I have a few gigs coming up – I have some Guitars & Saxes gigs. I’ve been touring with those guys – with Gerald Albright, Jeff Golub and Peter White, so that tour’s been going around the country for the last six months. We have a few more dates left playing. We scheduled a date in Austin, we had gigs in Houston and Austin but that hurricane kind of messed us up. We got that rescheduled and we’re playing in Connecticut and Long Island, so we got that coming up too.
Terrill: You know, I caught you over at the Playboy Jazz Festival this year (2008) with the Guitars and Saxes, man you guys did great!
Jeff: Well, that’s what we’re trying to do. You know it’s funny because they had so much great music that night – Herbie Hancock who’s my all-time keyboard player, piano player. It’s so much a pleasure to hear him play. We had to go out there and see what we could do after that.
Terrill: That’s awesome man and I hope to see you guys again. We wish you the best of success on your “Heard That” album. After listening, it’s just another one of your stellar releases man. Very beautiful music.
Jeff: We’re trying to. The last record was really ambitious & experimental. There’s a lot of like going ‘straight up’ stuff on it. The people that kind of like the funky R&B grooves that I’m known for, that is what’s on this record. I think those are the people who really go out and buy my stuff. And so for those people, they are going to definitely like this one.
Terrill: That’s cool man! We had at a time your hit video single with Karyn White “Facts of Love”, was jamming on the R&B page and it had a lot of responses for it. It just brings back the memory of how much music you’ve released over the years, a tremendous amount of it and we thank you so much for releasing some of that great stuff.
Jeff: I got to bring back “Facts of Love” and put that out again.
Terrill: Yes, you need to put that back out brother.
Terrill: Don’t mess around man! Put that back out! When you put out the “Philly Style”, “Kicking It” & “Flip Side” CDs….those CDs were supreme as well man! We just know that this new one is going to be the next one in your stage of success. But another big question for you Jeff – of today’s music genre in today’s generation of musicians, is there anyone out there that’s appealing to you?
Jeff: Yes. I try to stay up on top of it. I actually listen more to producers than I listen to the artists sometimes, like Pharell and The Neptunes. Some of what Dr Dre is doing of course and you know I always try to check it out. What I like is….I like the funky grooves. It seems like as far as rap music is concern it sort of goes through different phases. Sometimes it gets more funky and sometimes it’s less funky. It always hits hard – it works with the rap. I turn to the music behind the grooves I’m checking out. Partly because I think a lot of the really innovative ideas in music come from rap musi
c, come from those rap producers. They’re very innovative. They come up with ideas. So I’m always checking that stuff out. To be honest, at the moment there’s not a lot out there that’s getting me super excited. There’s a lot of stuff from the people I just mentioned and they all put out incredible music. I’m always checking out what they’re doing.
Terrill: There’s another cat named Timberland, do you listen to him?
Jeff: Of course…oh yeah. I’ve been listening to him since he put out his first record with Timberland and Magoo. I got his first two CDs that those two guys put together.
Terrill: Oh man that’s going back a little bit. What about another producer by the name of Chris “Big Dog” Davis.
Jeff: Well yeah. Obviously he’s more into the R&B than smooth jazz stuff. But from what I’ve heard from him, he is very strong and basically he does stuff similar to what I do, so I definitely appreciate that and I listen to what he’s doing and I think he’s excellent.
Terrill: One of our reviewers, Marv D., came out with a question that I thought was very interesting – he said ‘ask Jeff has he ever thought about putting out a collaborative release between him and Joe Sample and George Duke?’
Jeff: Kind of like umm ….
Terrill: SMV. (Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, & Victor Wooten)
Jeff: I Like that. Which is a really cool album by the way I really like that. You know, I love both of those guys and I would love to do that. The problem is when you get the keyboards, basically you can only play like musically one or two notes at a time. With keyboards, you can play a lot of notes so if you got three keyboard players together, you got to be really careful because you could get in each other’s way real easily.
Terrill: Right, I understand.
Jeff: But yes, that would be a great idea, let’s do it.
Terrill: Maybe we could make some phone calls and throw some e-mails together, you know. …
Jeff: There you go.
Terrill: We’re talking three legends on the ivories!
Jeff: I got to tell you: Joe Sample…..he’s a guy like….I think George might be into it but Joe is like, he’s very like iconoclastic. He’s very much a purist and he’s like a music historian. I’m not saying he’d be against it necessarily but he’s got some very strong opinions about his art, his music and he might be a tough guy to convince. I am a huge fan of his and I just love his writing. To me, he’s like the George Gershwin of jazz. The harmonies and stuff he comes up with is just so rich and so classic and so many of his songs, you just listen to them and you know their either standards or classics that will last forever.
Terrill: And if it ever came to pass. If you three came together, that is another sole reason you have three…
Jeff: Well I’ll call them after, we’ll book it tomorrow (laugh).
Terrill: And you’re talking three completely different jazz vibes coming together and really putting together a massive project for the ages. Just the thought of you three together would be a monstrous release in my opinion.
Jeff: They would have to do a backline for that concert. You have to hire all those pianos. You have to rent piano movers to move these pianos in a concert hall.
Terrill: Exactly! You know what’s funny? The movers probably wouldn’t have a problem setting it up! Knowing its, oh man – George, Joe and Jeff!
Going back just a tidbit to when you were speaking about hip-hop producers. It’s beautiful to hear that you acknowledge them but at the same time – hip-hop has always acknowledged you.
Jeff: That’s true. That’s true. I’ve had some nice collaborations with Notorious BIG and Bryan McKnight and Jay-Z. The people who sample my stuff and I really appreciate that. Some of those records came out in the early 80s and they were successful. They did well back in those days. We had a good time playing that music and I still play it, but then all of a sudden it gets sampled and a whole new audience gets to hear this music and it has a whole new life for a new generation of kids. I think that’s great. That’s what they say about being a musician is that when you can share your creations with the world and everybody appreciates it and everybody digs it, there’s no more great feeling than that to know people appreciate what you do and that you’ve created some music that people are enjoying. So more power to them, I love it when people sample my stuff.
Terrill: Right on! I am not going to take up too much of your time & I know you’re very busy.
Jeff: I am so busy to be honest with you. I can use a little time off right about now. I mean it’s good to be busy rather than not working that’s for sure.
Terrill: Yes, I know that’s right. Is there anything you’d like to share or tell The Urban Music Scene readers out there?
Jeff: Just to say Thank You for your support and I hope you can get a chance to check out the “Heard That” albu
m, ‘cuz I think you’re going to really dig it.
Terrill: Right on man. Thank you so much for your time, Jeff and I look forward to seeing you when you come back to L.A.!
Jeff: Ok, sounds great. Thank you!
Terrill: Have a good day!
The Urban Music Scene.com