Urban Vacation

Terje Lie

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Urban Vacation Review

by Michael G. Nastos

Terje Lie is a 1970's throwback saxophonist, with one foot in the New York City, R&B-influenced jazz of the Brecker Brothers, and the other stretching to the slick west coast, Los Angeles-based studio sound of Tom Scott and the L.A. Express. A very reliable and lyrical woodwind player, Lie somewhat expands the contemporary jazz music of the pre-disco era with spirit and drive, if not a great deal of derivation. Carefully chosen as sidemen and producers, keyboardist Jeff Lorber and bassist Jimmy Haslip are the principals in helping to revive this get-down funky jazz, a music more produced than created. It's actually a pretty good revisionist attempt, with expanded horn charts (arranged by Lorber) à la the Breckers when David Sanborn was with them, crossed with Haslip's Yellowjackets-type of soul-derived music that had fusion audiences compelled to enjoy to an uncomplicated type of electro-acoustic sound. With the more current-day title "Bail Out," Lie and his band jump into a typical N.Y.C. skunk funk with Haslip's vocal scatting infused with Lorber's Fender Rhodes electric piano. "Crazy Groove" is even more funky with a full horn section including saxophonist Gary Meek and trumpeter Ron King, while "Dance on the Water" brings out the Michael Brecker influence in Lie's tenor. Throughout the disc, a flute is heard even though it is unattributed to either Lie or Meek, but perhaps it is Lorber's keyboard assimilation. No matter the source, it fashionably enhances the music, adding a sweetness and light to the danceable beats. There's more unison playing on "Blue Funk" in a simplified, repeat melody, and where "So Retro" typically lives up to the title in an overt commercial vein, the bass lines of "Parlophone" anchor a heavier song with the thankfully natural horn complement. The ballad "Sedona" is the slickest track on the date; "Tonight" more overtly crosses into late-night, sugar-coated Kenny G territory, and a tambourine shake shades the busy, dense beat of "Coral Dream." Lie does one cover, the Roy Ayers dance song "Red, Black & Green" with a vocal chorus that is more disco-oriented than the other cuts, and features guitarist Dwight Sills. While not artistic in the purist jazz sense, Lie's soprano, alto, and tenor sax are not so much exploited as they are integrated, making for a solid group sound that would have been well-represented were it released on CTI, Groove Merchant, Arista, or Columbia records back in the day/

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