Chasing Music: Jeff Lorber at the Iridium

Second show in 24 hours. Whew. The so-called “snow” – more like sludge, really – melted quickly enough, but the chill remained. What better way to warm up than with some music?

Now, the last time I saw Jeff at the Iridium, which was July 2010, I was less than impressed. The Iridium is a good club with excellent acoustics, but the sound at that show was painfully lackluster. Moreover, the saxophonist sitting in with Jeff that night not only did not impress me, but had the outright opposite effect. That show, truth be told, left a sour note in my mouth (no pun intended).

Take 2 – different story altogether. This is how I like Jeff Lorber’s shows to sound.

Same club, different lineup. Different choice of music – mostly handpicked from Now Is The Time – and likely a different sound setup as well, because the acoustics were exactly as I would expect them from that venue. And on top of that – Eric Marienthal came back on the saxes.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, what a world of difference does Eric make. What a world of difference. His own material shows it best; he knows his horns. He knows his soprano sax and does not have to do much to get to the sound as he wants. High notes – effortless. Low growls on the alto or tenor – no problem. There is no effort whatsoever needed for Marienthal to rock out with a solo, or accent with a lick or two, and he can stand out just as easily as he blends into the overall sound.

And the sound – to-die-for.

Jeff Lorber hadn’t used Fusion for some time now. Nonetheless, and this is especially true of Now Is The Time, the sound is quite a throwback. His is a style that is very reminiscent of straight-ahead, especially in the new album, and even with the sax being as subtle as it is, it’s throwing me back to the stylistic meanders that I often heard with the Weather Report. Definitely one of my favorite styles of music, and Jeff does an excellent job capturing it. You see a lot of it with his new album, and he brought it front and center at Iridium.

On that new album, and especially after the show, I strongly recommend Chinese Medicinal Herbs. No, not the herbs themselves, the track. It’s very much quintessential Lorber, and you see the simple ingenuity in the arrangement of it. Very old-school fusion as is most of his sound, and especially in live show, it has plenty of room for creative meandering – and Jeff more than knows it. He got into the track, enjoyed it, and worked his charm on both the Yamaha and Iridium’s onstage baby grand.

I mentioned before that Eric Marienthal made a major difference in the show and I firmly stand by that assessment. Having worked with Jeff for some time, it’s very plain to see how well he knows the intricacies of Jeff’s composition. He is keenly aware of what Jeff incorporates, and sets aside his mellower style to bring an extra oomph to what Jeff Lorber Fusion creates.

And the one thing I will never, ever have to say regarding Lorber’s music is the phrase, “Once more, with feeling.”

What a difference, and what a night!



2 thoughts on “Chasing Music: Jeff Lorber at the Iridium

  1. The person that made that show work that night was drummer, Sonny Emory.
    I was in attendance for the July show, as well as this performance. the the difference was Emory’s energy, & professional approach.
    It took me back the LJF of 70’s fame.
    Jeff should use Sonny on all he live shows.

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