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The Definitive Collection

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Album Review

Long before the coining of the radio-generated buzzwords "new adult contemporary" or "smooth jazz," the composer/keyboardist Jeff Lorber was riding a creative wave of pop/jazz fusion, building a loyal following for a synthesis of sound so fresh and distinctive that only one name could really define it — the Jeff Lorber Fusion. It was pop, it was soul, it was rock-fusion, with dashes of jazz, blues and — dare it be mentioned, yet of its time — a dash of disco. The buoyant funk tune "Fusion Juice" sums up the spirit and percussive energy the band had, and which the keyboardist has carried on into his popular '90s work. The 16 tracks perfectly represent a time that postdates the hardcore jazz fusion of the early '70s and predates smooth jazz. (The Fusion was together from the mid-'70s through the early '80s, and that includes warts and all.) Despite the glorious melodies, beautiful keyboard passages, and irresistible funk, a few spacey synth solos would be conspicuously cornball if they were played today. While Lorber lovers and serious modern jazz collectors will no doubt thrill to get their hands on this wealth of classic material, fans of both smooth jazz and pop music who don't know Lorber from Count Basie may want to hear it for another reason — the early development of a then-obscure Seattle saxman known as Kenny Gorelick (later known as multi-million selling Kenny G). G's fans will immediately recognize his soprano tones on the dreamy "Tierra Verde" but will have a harder time picking his funkier style out of the slamming, discofied "Fusion Juice." This collection will also please audiophiles who have long desired to throw out their old scratched Lorber records and hear these classics remastered.

The Definitive Collection, Jeff Lorber Fusion
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