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  May 2007
"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" Jeff Lorber

jeff lorberSmitty:  My next guest really needs no introduction. However, I’m not letting him off that easy [Laughs]. When it comes to making great music he’s always switched on! He has just released an extraordinary new record, it is called He Had A Hat, and he’s the only guy in this genre that I call the Schiznick! Please welcome Mr. Super Fusion himself, Jeff Lorber.  Jeff, how ya doin’, my man?

Jeff Lorber (JL):  Great.  Thank you.  Thanks for having me on your show.  It’s great.

Smitty:  Thank you! It’s always great to talk with you and we haven’t talked in a little while, so I was certainly looking forward to this.  When I listen to this new record it just reminds me of this great improv session where everybody gets to strut their stuff and stretch out a little bit, and everybody has some room to really show what they have, and it’s just a great mix of music.  Man, I’m totally diggin’ this record.

JL:  Thank you.  I mean, that’s what it was like making the record.  It was just kinda one of those things where everybody that came to the studio to play, there was a real good feeling, that everybody felt like they were a part of something special.  None of the recording sessions that we did were in any way labored at all.  It all kinda came together real fast where everybody was just having a good time, everybody brought their “A” game, we got some incredible cats on the record.  I got to play with some people that I’ve never had a chance to play with before like Randy Brecker, Abraham Laboriel Jr., who’s an incredible drummer that I actually tried hard to get him to play on my last album, but I think he was too busy being on the road with Paul McCartney and Sting at that point.  And Dave Weckl, who I’ve had the pleasure of playing with a bit live lately, and, I mean, he’s just so fantastic, that guy.  He’s really just like from another planet the way he plays the drums.  And then some of my favorite people that I have worked with before like Hubert Laws, Alex Al, Paul Jackson Jr., and, of course, Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, having a chance to work with Randy Brecker.  We actually grew up in the same little suburb of Philadelphia, so it was really a pleasure to get to know him and get to work with him.

Smitty:  Yeah, that’s a very impressive group of cats.

JL:  Basically the whole thing was a lot of fun.  The real center of the record was working with Bobby Colomby, who’s the original leader of Blood, Sweat & Tears, and he produced Chris Botti’s last couple of records, which I’ve done a little work on.  That’s how we got to meet each other, through Chris.  And I’ve always kinda been a fan, especially of the Jaco Pastorius record, his first solo album called Jaco, which I just felt was an incredible album, and that was sort of our model, to do something real creative, real eclectic and real varied stylistically like that album.

Smitty:  Jeff, you hit your target right on because this is a great eclectic mix of music.  And you mentioned Dave Weckl.  I can’t say enough about this cat’s musicianship.  Unbelievable drum work.  And I noticed you’ve got some other great drummers, so you were making sure you had that whole groove thing working.

JL:  Yeah, it’s funny because there’s a lot of great musicians in L.A. just in general, but as far as drummers, there’s just so many great drummers, and Vinnie Colaiuta is playing on all the jazzy stuff, we got Dave, we got Abraham.  I mean, there’s other drummers that I’d love to work with but we didn’t even get a chance to get into that.  Like Michael White is a guy that I love. [Lil’] John Roberts too, I used a lot on my last few records.  I mean, he doesn’t live in L.A., but he’s here often, and so I think that’s one area that if you come to the Los Angeles area and you need a drummer, you definitely came to the right place.

Smitty:  Yeah, and I notice you have Ada Rovatti on there.  Man, I saw her at an Italian Women of Jazz show in New York last year.  Man, she’s great.

JL:  Yeah, the song “Surreptitious,” there’s a lot of people that really contributed to make it. When you listen to it, you probably think that somebody just arranged it and played it, but it really wasn’t like that.  That song kinda came together in a bunch of different sort of stages and it always had a sound that we thought would be great for a Brecker Brothers kind of sound, and so we basically asked Randy and Ada to kinda help us out with that Brecker Brothers vibe, which they definitely put on it, and then on top of that, we got the Blood, Sweat & Tears horn section. 

They came in to do a bunch of work and they actually on the spot arranged that song.  It was at the end of a 12-hour day.  They stuck around the studio for another couple hours and added even more great horn stuff on that, so that was just one of those real lucky songs that had a lot of contributions from a lot of different people, and it’s definitely….I mean, live it’s incredible.  It’s so much fun to play.  I think a lot of musicians are really kind of paying attention to that one.

Smitty:  Yeah, I hope everyone gets an opportunity to hear this music live because this is an incredible treat.  It’s sort of like a celebration of a lot of different styles.  This record….it’s loaded. I know you are excited about this record.

JL:  I am.  I mean, this is sort of like my White Album, like when the Beatles made that White Album they kinda put everything they had into it, it was a double album, it was all over the place stylistically, and that’s kinda how we approached this.  We didn’t hold back anything.  We actually wrote 20 songs for the record that we picked.  We didn’t finish 20, but we spent quite a bit of time on most of them in terms of developing them, and then eventually kinda whittled it down to the 13 that are on the record.  There’s actually one other song that we did finish that may come out as some kind of bonus track for iTunes or something, I’m not sure what, but yeah, it was just kinda like one of those situations of where it was just very inspired.  Bobby Colomby, he’s got so much passion for what he does, and he was like a coach.  He was there the whole time to sort of like cheer me on and to inspire me and to give me different ideas of different things to try, and I would bring him songs. One of my favorite songs on the record is a song called “Hudson.”

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