Released in 1980, Wizard Island is the fourth album by keyboardist Jeff Lorber as leader of his band "The Jeff Lorber Fusion". The album was Lorber's first to reach number one on the US Jazz Album chart.
Vincent Herring is complemented by rising young trumpeter Jeremy Pelt on this enjoyable studio date. "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" is a standard from the swing era, though the quintet translates it into a hard bop vehicle very well, with the leader throwing in a quick reference to another song ("Kerry Dance") from long ago. Herring is a bit playful in his treatment of the ballad "You Leave Me Breathless," while he handles McCoy Tyner's explosive "Four by Five" with finesse. But most of the session is devoted to originals by the band. Bassist Richie Goods contributed the funky, infectious "Citizen of Zamunda," which showcases the leader on his dancing soprano sax. Pianist Danny Grissert, who evidently made his recording debut with this CD, not only proves himself as a capable soloist, but also penned the exciting "Hopscotch" (marked by its use of stop time) and the tense "Encounters."
Best known as the keyboard wizard of the venerable Hungarian rock band Omega, the solo work of Laszlo Benko is by comparison virtually unknown beyond the confines of Eastern Europe. A curious offering of keyboard based electronic music, it can be likened at times to some of Tangerine Dream's mid-seventies material such as Rubycon or Ricochet albeit with a more light-hearted, zany touch much more along the lines of Kraftwerk minus the vocals or even some of Vangelis' seventies work. Prefering shorter formats rather than longer multi-dimensional compositions favoured by many progressive electronic artists, it is worth a brief glimpse into his musical contributions and developments within Omega in order to better introduce his solo work.
This remastered two-fer combines guitarist Mel Brown's second Impulse release from 1968, The Wizard, with Blues for We released the following year. The Wizard is a straight-ahead soul-jazz date picking up where Chicken Fat left off with a few originals alongside funky renditions of “Ode to Billie Joe” and Pee Wee Crayton’s R&B hit of the late '40s “Blues After Hours.” Blues for We relies more on an interesting selection of cover versions ranging from “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “Son of a Preacher Man” to the bubblegum staple by the 1910 Fruitgum Company “Indian Giver” and Acker Bilk’s “Stranger on the Shore,” which was the theme of a BBC television drama. Brown’s guitar work on both sessions is fluid and greasy, as are the funky drum licks, but occasionally, the arrangements drift into superior background music. New liner notes are absent, but the original packaging – front and back cover art and liner notes – remain intact.