Jeff Lorber

State of Grace

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Delving deep as ever into the retro, vibin, chillin' atmospheres is veteran keyboard funkateer Jeff Lorber, who was actually around playing and helping create the fusion style of jazz in the first place. On the cool explosions of State of Grace (Verve Forecast), one of pop fusion's early forebears shuns the synthesizer effects and again pulls out his healthy, well-traveled rack of simmering memories -- the Fender Rhodes, Hammond B-3, Hohner Clavinet, Wurlitzer electric piano, Mini-Moog, and, in keeping with the eloquence promised in the album title, the Steinway M grand piano. The result is a mostly hypnotic, marvelously organic ride through territory that is all at once familiar and uncharted. Percussive melodies are still the key to Lorber's West Side Stories, but this time he complements his trademark soul with the spiritual flute flutterings of Gary Meek, in addition to all-star contributions by Art Porter and Dave Koz. Koz and Lorber's recent trip to Indonesia for a songwriting symposium with Asian composers led to the most intriguing tune here, the mysterious and exotic "The Island of Temples." What luck that just as a guy like Lorber decides he never wants to leave the '70s, the mystical Me Decade is suddenly back, welcoming his likes again with open arms.

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