Anyone who appreciates the richness of Spanish music (be it traditional flamenco or the popular "flamenco rock" of the 1970s, '80s and '90s) can't help but take notice when an album is titled Madrid. This effort by guitarist Marc Antoine was recorded with the so-called "smooth jazz" market in mind. Imagine the most laid-back recordings of Earl Klugh, Lee Ritenour, or Grant Geissman having Spanish overtones, and you can get an idea what Antoine sounds like on such lightweight tunes as "Jazzenco," "Plaza Mayor," and "Sunland." Antoine's albums may have wound up in the jazz bins, but this CD is would be more at home in "new age with a beat.
For Immediate Release – Jeff Lorber Fusion, whose previous release Hacienda was praised for its “impeccable musicianship and deep grooves” by JazzTimes and its “funky, rollicking jams” by All About Jazz, returns on September 25, 2015, with Step It Up on Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group. The fourth consecutive collaboration between GRAMMY®-nominated keyboardist/composer/producer Jeff Lorber and GRAMMY®-winning bassist/composer/ producer Jimmy Haslip since the two virtuosos reactivated Jeff Lorber Fusion five years ago, Step It Up features 11 new Lorber compositions, several co-written with Haslip. The longtime colleagues also co-produced the recording.
In typical Yellowjackets fashion, Blue Hats takes the listener on a surprise journey of what seems like mainstream pop/jazz, but what is really much more well-crafted than the usual fare. The album mixes relatively easy-listening tunes with a few hard-driving ones where both Ferrante and Mintzer are able to branch out. Russel Ferrante's piano improvisations are at once sparse and lucid-his use of space allows his melodic genius to be appreciated by the attentive listener.
Keyboardist/composer/producer Jeff Lorber, heralded as one of the founding fathers of fusion (Keyboard), returns with his GRAMMY®-nominated power trio the Jeff Lorber Fusion, featuring bassist/co-producer Jimmy Haslip and saxophonist Eric Marienthal. Since the late 1970s, this contemporary jazz collective has blended elements of jazz, funk, rock, R&B and world music into a distinctive sound that has connected with audiences from a variety of continents, cultures and generations. In more recent years, the group's studio efforts such as their 2010 release, Now Is the Time (2010) and Galaxy (2012), influenced by extensive touring throughout Europe and Asia, have been colored with vibrant shades of dance and house music.
This live set by the Yellowjackets (taped at the Roxy in Hollywood) has plenty of solo space for Bob Mintzer (on tenor, soprano, bass clarinet and EWI) and keyboardist Russell Ferrante (who takes a particularly colorful spot on "Homecoming") along with fine backup work by bassist Jimmy Haslip, drummer William Kennedy and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa. Although the back cover of the CD says "Featuring: Michael Franks, Take 6, Brenda Russell & Marilyn Scott," fortunately Franks, Russell and Scott are only heard on one harmless selection ("The Dream" ) while Take 6 just pops by for the closer "The Revelation."
Taking a cue from Weather Report (not to mention a percussionist, Alex Acuna), the Yellowjackets created more exotic textures for Four Corners, often with the use of Zawinul-like synthesizers from Russell Ferrante. The album otherwise represents a shift toward more traditional jazz, felt profoundly in the rhythm section of Jimmy Haslip and new drummer William Kennedy. The change in strategy is made plain on the opening "Out of Town," which finds everyone rethinking their instrument beyond the smooth jazz of Shades.