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Jeff Lorber: Midnight

Well-traveled veteran composer, producer and keyboardist Jeff Lorber lets his roots show on the intensely likeable Midnight (Zebra Records; 50:54), a collection of soulful, earthy pieces which are painstakingly detailed, but never over-ornamented. Lorber, who has a long and eclectic all-star resume, pulls from classic influences ranging from trippy ’70s art rock (“A Walk in the Park,” complete with spiraling electronic effects) to funky cool fusion (the catchy title track, which also features soul-styled lead licks). Where “The Wild East” is zingy and jazzy, with a jumping flute line threaded through a funky background, “The Simple Life” is quietly reflective and upbeat, illustrating the simple pleasures of melody and texture. Lorber builds his performances on well-layered and varied keyboard sounds, achieving stellar results like a unique read of John Lennon’s “Dear Prudence,” with pulse beats laying the groundwork for the sweetly upbeat, building melody. Even “Never,” a somewhat washy ballad, comes across considerably more elegant and refined than a typical genre tune, thanks to Lorber’s detailed, elemental arranging.

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