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Kickin It by Jeff Lorber

Lorber combined some soulful favorites with musicians who understood the mission. Participants such as Gerald Albright, Dave Koz, Siedah Garrett (vocals), Lenny Castro and a whole host of others "bring it home."

The opener, "Snakebite," is a straight no-nonsense track that’s slick and sophisticated. Albright contributes some funky sax coupled with Lorber’s tasty piano that kicks at every turn. As many of Chaka Khan and/or Rufus’ signature songs, "Ain’t Nobody" embodies much of the joy and spirit of the original vocal. Lorber puts his twist on it without twisting it out. His work at the keys leads the pack of the other groovers including former Rufus guitarist, Tony Maiden to kick it hard.

Lorber and company smooth it out with "Happy Endings," a romantic, satiny ballad that finds Dave Koz’ sax filled with emotion, but gives a mellow lead into Lorber’s piano solo. There seems to be a slight irony in the title as it borders on a bittersweet sentiment, but a joyful melody overall. "Chopsticks" is upbeat, tight and energetic with an urban flavor from the rhythm all the way through. Steve Cole and Lorber match their musical wits and give the listener something to smile about.

Well, the Crusaders’ gem, "Keep That Same Ol’ Feelin’" is back again after a few reprisals. This has more of the "feelin’" that the original masters wanted to communicate and Lorber has a good sense of that here. It’s not boisterous, but just plain cool. "Reflections" is supreme indeed, but not a remake of Motown’s Golden Girls’ hit. Deep it is, and truly "reflective" of its name. As Lorber’s keyboard magic pulls into the sax solo, the listener is taken on a soul-searching journey and you’ll find it. "The Bijou" reminds me of an Eddie Harris-type groove that’s updated for the new century. It’s got the hipness and sincerity that makes a true classic.

The title track, "Kickin It" is accurately named and what a time these musicians must have had. Lorber has an obvious appreciation for standards from the past and though leaning a bit on Ramsey Lewis, he stands on his own interpretation of "The In Crowd" to refresh and give this already solid gem a new shine. "What It Is" is tough, funky and hard without screaming at the listener. There’s no compromise of feeling and honesty. The keyboards really smoke and there’s more heat generated by the featured sax.

If you want to feel alive and ready, this is a good set to have. Lorber and fellow musicians deliver a strong musical set that respects the past by giving many of these tracks the means to live on.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jeff Lorber
  • CD Title: Kickin It
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Samson Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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