Some three decades after breaking funky R&B-jazz ground as leader of the pioneering Jeff Lorber Fusion, the Philly- born and bred composer, producer and keyboard legend still believes in the element of surprise. Riffing quite literally on the title of his 2005 Grammy-nominated recording Flipside, Lorber stretches beyond his comfort zone on He Had a Hat, a distinctively eclectic player's session with a batch of contemporary jazz's most exciting artists. The disc marks his first recording under Narada Jazz's new affiliation with the Blue Note label.
Long considered one of modern music's most adventurous players and performers, Lorber goes full throttle on He Had a Hat, taking a freewheeling, stylistically varied approach as whimsical as the collection's title (a punchline from a beloved old Borscht Belt joke). Over the course of 13 tracks, the keyboardist pays homage to a wide range of his favorite influences, tapping into everything from gospel and brass-driven old school jazz-fusion to smoky and sultry Miles Davis-flavored moods, hard driving bebop, swinging jazz and, of course, his more familiar funk-jazz vibe.
Lorber's guest list rolls like a euphoric, multi-genre jazz encyclopedia: Randy Brecker, Chris Botti, Brian Bromberg, Tom Scott, Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Bob Sheppard, Hubert Laws, Alex Al, Paul Jackson, Jr., Paul Brown, Russell Malone, Abe Laboriel, Jr., Dave Weckl and Vinnie Colaiuta. Colomby, former drummer and a founding member of jazz-rock legends Blood, Sweat & Tears, also recruited that band's esteemed horn section for five of the recording's tracks.