Jeff Lorber Private Passion

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jefflorber.jpg "AFTER a series of near misses during his Arista years, 35-year-old {safm}Jeff  Lorber{/safm} has attained that elusive crossover hit first time out on Warner Brothers. "Facts Of Love" is the record and it not only provides Jeff with a slab of gold, it also welcomes two exciting new vocal talents to an unsuspecting world ? Karyn White and Michael Jeffries.

AFTER a series of near misses during his Arista years, 35-year-old Jeff Lorber has attained that elusive crossover hit first time out on Warner Brothers. "Facts Of Love" is the record and it not only provides Jeff with a slab of gold, it also welcomes two exciting new vocal talents to an unsuspecting world ? Karyn White and Michael Jeffries.

Is the change of record labels any more than mere coincidence?
"It's hard to say," Jeff responds diplomatically. "I always felt that "Step By Step" (the title track from his 1985 Arista LP) should have been bigger than it was and that perhaps the company didn't support it quite as much as I felt it warranted. But I learned a lot from being with Clive (Davis, Arista President) and Arista and in their defence they have done a good job with Kenny G. I think I had reached as far as I was going to go with them and although I actually still owed them one album, my manager was able to negotiate a way out of the contract.

"Warner Brothers seemed excited from the beginning and that was what made me want to be with them. Then, once the record started to do well, they had the resources to push it across."

In all honesty (and in Arista's defence, I suppose!), I'd have to say that "Private Passion", the album from which "Facts Of Love" is culled, is not only Lorber's best but also probably his most commercial offering to date.

"I would tend to agree," Jeff concedes. "Obviously, the instrumental tracks don't really have the same potential to cross over so we're really talking about the vocal tracks. I can't honestly say we made a conscious effort to come up with a crossover kind of a record but we did aim for strong R&B potential vocals.

"I actually felt that "Private Passion" came out the best but, in the case of "Facts Of Love", I loved the lyric the minute I heard it and I felt it turned out very well."
OF course, much of the accolade on "Facts Of Love" has to also go to Karyn White, whose stunning lead vocal performance pursuaded Warners to sign her to a solo deal. Jeff has now run into the eternal problem of having his name on the record and people expecting him to be the vocalist ? which is somewhat difficult under this present set of circumstances!

"Sure, it is a potential problem ? or it can be!" he smiles. "But I look at it this way. I feel like the old-time bandleaders, using different individual members of a band. These days, there are many collaborative records. And you also have situations like a Van Halen."

Right now, Karyn and Michael Jeffries, the album's other featured lead vocalist, are completing a tour with Jeff. Once that is complete, both will commence work on their respective debut albums for Warner Brothers.

"I'll be involved in both as a writer and producer, but not exclusively," Lorber points out. "Then it'll be time to start work on my own album and I'll be delighted to include both Karyn and Michael if they are able to be involved.

"One of the great delights of this business is being able to help undiscovered talent to become discovered. To me, it's not like a responsibility ? it's something I genuinely get satisfaction from. It also benefits both factions and opens new doors for everybody involved."

While still on the subject of "Private Passion", Jeff has brought in some outside instrumental help, too ? notably Freddie Hubbard and {safm}Larry Carlton{/safm}.

"Freddie just plays beautifully and this is the third time he has played on my sessions," Jeff says proudly. "And I consider it an honour to have such a true legend involved with my music. For me, Freddie is the greatest trumpet and Qugelhorn player in the world today."

FOR the fact-finders amongst you, Jeff hails from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia ? a true hotbed of musicians! "It must be something in the water!" Jeff laughs. "But it's a city with a musical tradition and you tend to grow up in a richer musical environment.

"When I was growing up, the city was really hot ? people like Chubby Checker, the
Dovells, the Orlons and Dee Dee Sharp were the toast of the city. Those were the Cameo- Parkway days and they preceded the Gamble and Huff/Philadelphia International era. That was just getting started when I left the city."

Shortly after his 17th birthday; Jeff headed north to study music at the famed Berklee School of Music in Boston.

"I got real frustrated at Berklee," he recalls. "I began  to think I could never make a 'living out of music. Or, if I could, it would have been working in a Holiday Inn lounge or as a piano teacher!"

So, Jeff transferred to medical' college for 2/2 years. "That experience has been invaluable to me, though. The discipline has helped a lot and I picked up a lot of technical knowledge that I would have otherwise never have been exposed to. So, all in all, it was a very positive experience."

IT was at this stage in life that Jeff headed west ? to Portland, Oregon, to be precise. The original plan was to study chemistry but Jeff started back-dooring back into the world of music.
"I got to play with a whole variety of groups ? ranging from Country & Western to Big Band. Again, it was all valuable experience. It's all part of paying one's dues and you have to go through it."

Jeff finally landed a record deal with Inner City Records and he hasn't looked back since. Now it's all a question of looking forward. "My management are talking about possibly being in Europe this summer. There are plans to maybe do Montreux and if that happens then I'm sure we'll play London at least.

"I was actually in Britain a year or more back to promote "Step By Step". We did some track dates and interviews. It's strange really because I'm on Polygram Records in Britain ? that stems from when Arista didn't want to release my product in the U.K. and we negotiated a deal whereby we'd be released on Polygram in Britain only. When we signed with Warner Brothers, we kept that relationship intact."

Introducing Karyn White

In case the name Karyn White rings a bell, it may be because she was lead singer with the group Legacy for a hot minute! Unfortunately, the group 'fired' her (her words!) and then went on a one-way trip to anonymity. A year or two later, Karyn auditioned for the vacancy left in Shalamar when Jody Watley left the group ? but she narrowly missed landing the job.

However, there's a very happy ending because Karyn has just signed a solo deal with Warner Brothers, hot on the heels of the breakthrough "Facts Of Love" hit she shares with Jeff Lorber.

What can we expect from Karyn's solo salvo? "Well, you can expect a kind of a sophisticated funky approach to music. You can expect Jeff to be involved, as well as Evan Rogers and Carl Struken, who co-produced "Facts Of Love" with Jeff. There's also been some talk of me working with Narada Michael Walden and Jerry Knight ? but nothing is confirmed yet.

Introducing Michael Jeffries

"WORKING with Jeff has been the most positive step in my career so far," Michael enthuses. However, his background includes a stint with another Warner Brothers mainstay group of days gone by ? Tower of Power.

Michael starts work on his solo debut this spring and he, too, will have input from Jeff, Evan and Carl ? as well as Nile Rogers, {safm}George Duke{/safm}, Preston Glass and Greg Mathieson. "My aim is to appeal to everybody ? kind of like Kool & the Gang. I don't want any restrictions!" (OR B&S)

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