JazzTimes is honored to present the premiere of Space-Time, the new album by the Grammy-winning Jeff Lorber Fusion, which will be officially released by Shanachie Records on Friday, July 2. On its 11 tracks, the core Fusion trio of keyboardist/composer/producer Jeff Lorber, bassist Jimmy Haslip, and drummer Gary Novak is joined by an array of notable guests, including flutist Hubert Laws; guitarists Paul Jackson, Jr., Michael Landau, and Robben Ford; and saxophonists Bob Mintzer, Dave Mann, Gary Meek, and Gerald Albright (the latter of whom actually plays bass here, on a track titled “Memorex”).
Although Lorber spent much of the past year’s pandemic producing other artists—including Herb Alpert, Richard Elliot, Norman Brown, and Alexander Zonjic—he also continued to write his own new material, much of which appears on Space-Time. Most of the musicians contributed their parts remotely, but Lorber and Novak were able to record together in the same studio. “Over the last number of years most of us have gotten used to tracking at home,” Lorber says. “So from that standpoint it wasn’t that different from a normal record. One thing that was different, however, was the absence of live touring. I was able to really focus on the record, and this album benefited positively from that.”
Mintzer, known for his work with Haslip (among many others) in the Yellowjackets, can be heard on tenor sax on four Space-Time cuts: the opening title track, “Mind Reader,” “Curiosity,” and “Truth”; the middle two of those also feature Ford on guitar. Mann plays and provides horn arrangements on “Back Room,” “Memorex” (co-written by Lorber, Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright, and Rick Braun), “Louisiana,” “Curiosity,” “Truth,” and the reprise of “Memorex” that closes the album. Jackson’s guitars—a regular component of another Lorber-led group, Jazz Funk Soul—enliven “Back Room” and “Truth,” while Landau’s take the spotlight for “Sun Princess,” “Louisiana,” and the ballad “Day One.”
Meek, on soprano sax, and Laws appear on one of the album’s highlights, “Chick,” which is dedicated to the late Chick Corea, an important early figure for Lorber. “Without Chick Corea,” he says, “I might not have a career! My first record [Jeff Lorber Fusion] came out [in 1977] on a small label called Inner City. Luckily, I had a budget big enough to hire some name players on my follow-up album Soft Space, and I was able to get Chick and Joe Farrell. In the ’70s, I made friends with Chick by writing him letters and sending him some transcriptions of his music. He was very supportive and a super nice guy. Working with Chick and Joe, we were able to get national exposure, which helped my career immensely.”
Since those days, Lorber and his colleagues have scaled the heights of popularity, touring internationally and garnering six Grammy Award nominations. They finally scored a Grammy win the seventh time around, in 2018 for the album Prototype.
For more information on Jeff Lorber, visit his website.