Trailblazing pianist, composer, producer and bandleader Jeff Lorber is a consummate artist who continues to push himself to new plateaus. A groundbreaking Fender Rhodes pioneer along with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample and Bob James, Lorber has triumphed as one of the most innovative musical minds in contemporary jazz. The multi Grammy-nominated pianist’s newest CD is a sterling example of his expansive musical roots, masterfully crafted harmonic and melodic sophistication, irresistible finger-poppin’ grooves and intricate rhythmic sense. “I came up with the name Prototype because we are always trying to up our game and come up with new exciting music that could be a prototype or innovative harbinger for the future of our musical style,” says the LA based pianist. Lorber, a Berklee College of Music alum who formerly majored in Chemistry at Boston College goes full throttle on Prototype, orchestrating like an alchemist in the lab concocting a majestic elixir of jazz, soul, funk, pop, R&B and gospel.
Prototype features longtime collaborators – bassist Jimmy Haslip (founding member of The Yellowjackets) and drummer Gary Novak. “From a production standpoint Jimmy adds a ‘big picture’ element. He contributes a lot with his warm bass sound and on the road he is without a doubt one of the finest soloists out there on his instrument.” Lorber adds, “Gary’s very versatile, imaginative, super solid and gets a great sound. He really shines playing over the funky polyrhythmic grooves we record.” The newest member to the all-star unit is saxophonist Andy Snitzer, who like Lorber (and the Brecker Brothers) hails from Cheltenham, PA. Lorber states, “Andy’s got a perfect approach. It’s soulful and melodic and he is not afraid of taking the music outside a bit.” Prototype also features special guests bassist Nathan East, guitarists Chuck Loeb, Larry Koonse and Paul Jackson, Jr. and saxophonist Dave Mann, among others. “Writing is something that I really enjoy and I’m always coming up with ideas to work on,” states Jeff Lorber, who penned nine of the tracks on Prototype and co-wrote one with Jimmy Haslip. “We put a lot of work, love and care into this record. I hope that everyone who hears it enjoys listening to it as much as we enjoyed writing and recording it. I think it’s the kind of record that will reap dividends by repeated listening because there’s a lot of great playing that you can only appreciate by really getting into it and checking out all the details.” Prototype opens with the spunky and electrifying “Hyperdrive” hinting to the euphoric musical excursion that lies ahead. The track features guitarist and Jazz Funk Soul collaborator Chuck Loeb who calls Jeff “an amazing guy and talent.” Lorber says of bassist Nathan East, who also appears on the track, “Nathan played on ‘Hyperdrive’ because I originally wrote that for his project. He played great on it so we kept it. I have to thank him for not using the track because it’s one of my favorites and the first single!”
The album’s title track is a spirited and pulsating mid-tempo blues. Lorber explains, “Blues is a huge part of our music and I think Andy really brings it home with his approach to the melodies and his solos.” Saxophonist Dave Mann offers a vibrant, smoothly executed and feel-good horn arrangement on this track as well as six others. “The shout chorus on ‘Prototype’ is great,” comments Lorber. “I’m glad to also feature guitarist Michael Thompson who plays a stellar solo on the end of the song.” Prototype also showcases the jubilant shuffle “Test Drive,” which serves up a thrilling rock section and finds Lorber doing double duty as he plays not only keys but guitar as well. He reflects, “A shuffle is something I can’t remember writing or recording since Kenny G’s first album. I think the title is great because to me it does have that sound of driving on a beautiful day on the Pacific Coast Highway here in Southern California.”
Larry Koonse, who is the guitarist heard soloing on the track, has played on Lorber’s last four recordings. “Larry is a very musical player who brings straight ahead point of view,” shares Lorber. “He also plays on ‘Vienna’ and ‘Hidden Agenda.’ I enjoy having him represent the bebop side of the music we play.” A standout on Prototype is the show-stopper, “The Badness,” which is a beautiful showcase for Lorber who shines as he cuts loose on his newly purchased and refurbished 1972 Fender Rhodes. “Hidden Agenda” is a memorable and swooning R&B flavored number while “Gucci’s” house groove revs us into high gear with an unforgettable and high octane performance and “Park West” demonstrates why Lorber is a master at creating nitty-gritty down-home grooves. Prototype comes to a rousing finale with the gorgeous ballad “River Song,” which calls to mind Lorber’s hit song “Anthem For A New America.” “‘River Song” sort of wrote itself in a little burst of inspiration,” recalls Lorber. “I wasn’t really expecting it. Gary gets to really show his jazz finesse here with the drum part.”
Jeff Lorber’s Fusion came to life in the 70s when the pianist attended Berklee College of Music. “I was listening to Miles Davis and Bitches Brew and the beginning of great fusion bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return to Forever,” reflects Lorber. “There were also artists like Herbie Hancock, The Crusaders and Grover Washington, who pioneered a more melodic and funky type of sound. Not to mention the fantastic music being made in R&B and pop music like Earth Wind and Fire and Tower of Power.” Lorber envisioned Jeff Lorber Fusion a second generation to these fusion bands that were more R&B and melody oriented. A true clinician, Lorber has made it a point to study the long line of modern jazz pianists since 1945. “Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea have been major influences but I had to go back and try to figure out who they listened to and were inspired by,” says Lorber. “Some of these icons that come to mind are Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner and Bud Powell.” He adds, “I also can’t forget all of the pianists who played with Miles Davis such as Red Garland, Wynton Kelly, Tommy Flanagan and Horace Silver.” Growing up in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania offered great inspiration for Jeff Lorber. “There were a lot of home grown record labels like Cameo Parkway and Philadelphia International (Gamble and Huff) not to mention tons of home grown talent. And the Dick Clark show originally came from there.” In 1977 Jeff Lorber Fusion released their self-titled debut. Their 1980 album Wizard Island made the introduction of a then little known Kenny G. The ensemble quickly gained traction and became one of the most popular jazz acts, touring nonstop. In 1982 Lorber made his solo debut with It’s A Fact. He scored his first Grammy nomination in 1986 for his radio hit “Pacific Coast Highway” from his album Step By Step. In the 90s Lorber released a successful string of projects including West Side Stories (1994), State of Grace (1996) and Midnight (1998). During this time Lorber also stayed busy producing for the likes of Michael Franks, Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright and Rick Braun, among others. The prolific pianist continued to add to his accolades with his shining recordings Kickin’ It (2001), Philly Style (2003), Flipside (2005), He Had A Hat (2007, Grammy nominated) and Heard That (2008), Now Is The Time (2010, Grammy nominated), Galaxy (2012, Grammy nominated) Hacienda (2013, Grammy nominated) and Step It Up (2015). Lorber made his first recordings for Shanchie as a member of Jazz Funk Soul with Chuck Loeb and Everette Harp on the albums Jazz Funk Soul and the Grammy nominated More Serious Business. Jeff Lorber has endured his own battle with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) and has made it a mission to work with the PKD Foundation to raise awareness. “I was very lucky that my wife donated her kidney,” shares the pianist. “I’m going on 11+ years and I’m very grateful for that. My sister had a transplant a couple years ago and she is doing well also. There are some solutions that are being worked on but like many genetic based diseases it could be a long time before there is significant progress. People should know that there are 800,000 people in the US with PKD and two million worldwide. It’s a huge problem that unfortunately doesn’t get a lot of publicity.” Lorber, a self-professed enthusiast of podcasts, audio books, Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music concludes, “Since I had the transplant I focus on doing things that I enjoy and that are meaningful. I try to make the most of each day and to be productive and make great music.” There lies the Prototype for a beautiful life.
Everette Harp began his interest in jazz as early as 8 yrs. old when he discovered 2 jazz albums in his parents’ collection of gospel records. Having played the saxophone for 4 yrs by this time, these 2 jazz albums gave Harp an idea of where he wanted to go with the saxophone.
In Junior High Everette progressed as a jazz soloist under the guidance of his music teacher Buddy Smith. Everette was named “Outstanding Soloist” in every jazz festival competition entered by his Jr. High jazz band.
Harp proceeded on to the High School for the Performing Arts where he continued his winning ways with the award winning high school. Harp was also honored with the prestigious “Downbeat Award”, by Downbeat Magazine, for outstanding jazz soloist in 1979.
Everette then proceeded on to North Texas State University where the reputation for their jazz department was world-renowned. Here Harp continued to hone his jazz and overall playing skills, while working towards his music education degree.
Returning to Houston, Everette worked as an associate accountant for 6 months while playing in clubs at night. After realizing he could do well financially with just playing music Everette made the leap into the music world full time and never looked back.
Everette played the club scene in Houston from 1982 –1988 before moving to Los Angeles. During that stint in the Houston club music scene Everette was considered the top sax player in town. Having yearly contracts with clubs there in Houston Everette was not wanting for work. He also supplemented his club work with studio recording work, as well as jingle work.
Being top call in Houston, while great, was not where Everette wanted to stay, so he moved to Los Angeles in 1988, where he immediately got work with Teena Marie, and then on to an extended tour with Anita Baker. He was Mrs. Baker’s saxophonist for 6yrs, but not exclusively. During this period he also did tours with singers Sheena Easton, Kenny Loggins, Luther Vandross, George Duke, Al Jarreau and Marcus Miller. Everette was also the sax player in the Arsenio Hall band for the last year and a half of the show. It was in 1991 when Harp was presented the opportunity sign a record deal with prestigious the Blue Note Jazz label. Harp recorded for Blue Note for ten yrs. doing 5 CDs. He then moved to upstart indie A440 Records for one record, then to Shanachie Records where he is presently under contract. He continues to record and tour as one of contemporary jazz’s top saxophonist.
In 1991, Harp toured with George Duke and Marcus Miller, and recorded his debut for Manhattan. In 1992, he toured with Rachelle Ferrell, and two years later his second album (for Blue Note Contemporary) was released; the Marvin Gaye tribute What’s Going On, his contribution to the Blue
Note Cover Series, followed in 1997, trailed a year later by Better Days. For the Love was released three years later. The popular Everette Harp’s background is in gospel and R&B, but he sometimes displays the ability to improvise. He has remained active releasing such albums as For the Love in 2000, All for You in 2004, In the Moment in 2006, and My Inspiration in 2007. In 2009 Everette Harp came full circle recording his latest project with producer George Duke at the helm. The project presented Everette the opportunity to go back to his college roots and play the mainstream jazz which he fell in-love with at an early age. The project has been aptly titled “First Love”. “This CD has given me the opportunity to do two things I haven’t been able to do in a long time…… play more straight-ahead jazz, and work on one of my CDs with my dear friend and mentor George Duke. My dream come true!”
PAUL JACKSON JR.
Born and based in Los Angeles and a member of numerous local bands from his early teens, including a band composed of himself and his siblings, Paul Jackson, Jr. very quickly established his skill and sensitivity and was soon called upon to do many R&B and pop sessions, as well as jazz dates. Jackson began his own solo recording career in the late 80’s. However, it was not until a decade later that his musical maturity, much imitated distinctive style, and significant musical and technical skills made him a favorite among live audiences and his becoming recognized by many as the most recorded guitarist in the world.
Though Jackson never got to meet or work with one of his chief guitar/musical influences, Wes Montgomery, he has forged professional relationships with all the others who touched his formative years, including Gary Bell, Earl Klugh, George Benson, Ray Parker Jr., George Duke, Al McKay , Lee Ritenour, along with his mentor, Patrice Rushen, Paul has appeared on the recordings of other superstars such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Elton John, Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, Boney James, Kenny Rogers, Barry White, Chicago, and many others. More recently, Paul contributed his playing styles and composing chops to the Daft Punk CD, which garnered 5 Grammy Awards, was the #1 album in 104 countries. and garnered Paul Grammy recognition for his contribution to the Album
Seven previous successful albums, containing several top ten releases include: I Came To Play (Grammy Nominated), Out of The Shadows, and River in The Desert under the Atlantic Label. Never Alone Duets under the Pony Canyon/ Blue Note Labels, Power Of the String and Still Small Voice under the Blue Note Label, and Lay it Back, under Branch Records, Inc. Paul has recently released the single B.F.A.M. (Brothers From Another Mother) from his new CD, “Stories From Stompin’ Willie”.
Paul has appeared on many television shows and specials: The American Cinema Awards Show, which honored Bob Hope (Music Director);. Sitcoms Martin and Townsend Television (Music Director); The Movie, Undercover Brother.( co-composer), and The 2008 Grammy after party (Music Director) featuring many notable artists including Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Jill Scott, Ne-Yo and Lionel Ritchie. Paul was a band regular of the highly regarded television shows: “Don’t Forget The Lyrics” NBC’s Jay Leno Tonight Show, and Fox’ The American Idol Show.
Paul has taught at worship/musical conferences in Korea, Italy, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as authored the curriculum for these conferences. He believes his trip with Whitney Houston to South Africa in 1995 was his most spiritual, powerful and soul-energizing project.