Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jeff Lorber Fusion - Galaxian

With a smooth sound bringing together elements of funk, R&B, rock, and electric jazz, keyboardist Jeff Lorber helped pioneer a genre of fusion later formatted under such names as NAC and contemporary jazz. Born in Philadelphia on November 4, 1952, he began playing the piano at the age of four, and as a teen performed with a variety of local R&B bands.

In 1972 Lorber formed his first group, The Jeff Lorber Fusion, released their self-titled debut album in 1977. Supported by a revolving cast of musicians including longtime drummer Dennis Bradford, Lorber recorded five studio albums under this moniker. These early releases showcased a funky sound influenced by other jazz fusion practitioners like Herbie Hancock, Weather Report and Return to Forever, the latter's Chick Corea appearing on several noteworthy Fusion cuts. Like his contemporaries, Lorber performed on multiple keyboard instruments including piano, Rhodes piano, and various analog synthesizers, often favoring the Minimoog and Sequential Circuits Prophet 5.

The followup Fusion album, Soft Space was issued by Inner City Records in 1978 and in 1979, Lorber & Co. moved to Arista Records and released one album per year for the next four years. 1979's Water Sign, 1980's Wizard Island, 1981's Galaxian and 1982's It's A Fact which served as Lorber's first outing after Fusion's breakup.

Lorber, who followed up Fact with 1984's In the Heat of the Night and 1985's Lift Off. Later that same year, Lorber teamed up with influential R&B production duo David Frank and Mic Murphy, otherwise known as The System, to produce his most successful effort to date, Step By Step. The synth-driven title track rose to number 31 on the R&B charts.

Jeff didn't release his first proper solo LP until 1991's Worth Waiting For, remaining both a prolific performer and producer for the rest of the decade. His subsequent albums continued to evolve in a smooth jazz direction. He recorded for Verve and Zebra in the '90s before moving over to Narada in the 2000s.

Two greatest hits compilations, The Definitive Collection and The Very Best of Jeff Lorber, were released in 2000 and 2002 respectively.

To date, he has recorded a dozen solo albums, among his most recent releases are 2005's Flipside which was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category and 2007's He Had A Hat recorded for Blue Note in 2007.

Lorber has done extensive production and session work for other artists including Dave Koz, Eric Benet, Herb Alpert and Laura Branigan. In addition to his recording and performing, Lorber also hosts his own show on Sirius Satellite Radio.

If you're in the market for your own copy of Galaxian you should be able to track down a vinyl copy for under $10 here. It's also available as an import CD right here.

Featured cut: "Night Love"

Dig my vinyl rip here.

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