Jeff Lorber Fusion, The Drop Review


Jeff Lorber Fusion, The Drop Review

by Stamish Malcuss

Jeff-Lorber-Fusion-CDJeff Lorber Fusion’s latest album, The Drop, is a solid addition to their extensive discography. This fusion ensemble, led by keyboardist Jeff Lorber and bassist Jimmy Haslip, has been a force in the jazz-funk genre for over a decade. The Drop marks their 9th studio recording, showcasing a stellar lineup of musicians. Under the aegis of Lorber, the ensemble has evolved from its origins into a dynamic duo of Lorber and Haslip, supplemented by a rotating cadre of guest musicians. This transformation has not diminished the group’s impact; it has allowed for a more focused exploration of Lorber’s compositional prowess and the synergistic interplay between the core members and their guests.

The album’s personnel reads like a who’s who of contemporary jazz and fusion, with Gary Novak, Paul Jackson Jr., Marc Lettieri, and Cornelius Mims, among others, contributing their unique voices. This all-star lineup is not merely decorative; each musician brings depth and texture to Lorber’s compositions, creating a tapestry of sound that is as rich as it is enthralling.

At the heart of The Drop is Lorber’s keyboard work, which remains as inventive and vibrant as ever. Tracks like “The Drop” and “Altered State” showcase his ability to meld catchy melodies with complex harmonies while maintaining an irresistibly compelling groove. His use of various keyboards, from Rhodes to Minimoog, provides a sonic palette that is both diverse and cohesive, a testament to his mastery of the instruments and the genre.

Jimmy Haslip’s bass playing is equally foundational to the album’s success. His lines are both supportive and melodic and rhythmic forces in their own right. On tracks like “Hang Tight” and “Liberty,” his interplay with Lorber’s keyboards and the guest musicians’ contributions highlight the chemistry developed over their decade-long collaboration. This rapport is crucial, allowing the music to transcend mere performance and become a conversation among virtuosos.

The guest musicians enrich the album’s fabric, bringing their unique flavors to Lorber’s compositions. Guitarists Paul Jackson Jr. and Marc Lettieri, for instance, offer fiery and nuanced solos, serving the songs without overshadowing the ensemble. The horn arrangements, particularly those by David Mann, add a layer of sophistication and vitality, elevating tracks like “New Mexico” and “Keep Moving” into the realm of the extraordinary.

Production-wise, The Drop benefits from the shared vision of Lorber and Haslip, with mixing by Peter Mokran and mastering by Bernie Grundman. This behind-the-scenes team ensures that the album sounds impeccable, with each instrument finding its place in the mix without compromising the overall balance. The result is a record that is as enjoyable for its sonic qualities as for its musical content.

Thematically, The Drop does not shy away from exploring a variety of moods and styles, from the funk-infused “Mindshare” to the more contemplative “Reception.” This diversity is unified by a consistent level of musicianship and an unmistakable joy in the act of creation. Lorber’s assertion that the album aims to uplift and transport the listener is fully realized, as each track offers an escape into a world where melody, harmony, and rhythm coalesce into something extraordinary.

In conclusion, The Drop is a statement of artistic intent and a celebration of musical partnership by Jeff Lorber Fusion. The album offers a compelling blend of technical proficiency, compositional elegance, and sheer enjoyment. Jeff Lorber Fusion continues to prove once again that their music is alive and evolving, making The Drop a journey into the heart of fusion that is to be noticed.

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