The supergroup Jazz Funk Soul was formed in 2014 with original members pianist/keyboardist Jeff Lorber, Grammy nominated saxophonist Everette Harp and the late Grammy nominated guitar wizard Chuck Loeb. Their self-titled album was released ink 2014, and their second album, More Serious Business, came out in 2016.
Unfortunately Chuck Loeb passed away in 2017, so the venerable Paul Jackson, Jr. will join the band for their third album, Life and Times. The set consists of ten original songs, and all three artists had a hand in writing and producing all of the tracks. The album will drop on January 25, so just think of this as the first great jazz album of 2019.
For those of you that like your smooth jazz straight-forward and funky, this will definitely be at the top of your wish list.
Review – “Life and Times” by Jazz Funk Soul
Exotic is up first. With a title like that, you might think it is a slow, sensual song. NOPE! This is a track that will get you up and moving. They all have a turn to do their thing. Everette Harp totally kills that sax part, Jeff Lorber tickles those keys like no other, and Paul Jackson, Jr. holds his own on the guitar.
I also have to give a shout out to Gary Novak, who plays drums on the track. The groove is TOO HOT!
Up next is Blacksmith. They slow down the funk a little, and once again, each musician has their chance to shine. Once again Harp really blows that horn, and I guarantee you will hit repeat on this a few times to sop up every last drop of goodness.
The next track is called Walkin’ With You. This is an uptempo track but it feels like a mid-tempo groove. All three musicians sit in the middle of that groove as they play. The result is a song that you will add to your favorite playlist.
The first single off the album, Windfall, is up next. I love how Lorber and Harp play together on this track. Their instruments are stacked during the hook and their blend sounds great. Not to be outdone, Jackson works that guitar quite nicely.
You can check it out below.
The title track, Life and Times, is up next. As far as I am concerned, this is the best song on the album. It showcases the artistic talents of all of the musicians, and if you had to sum up the album with one song, this would be it.
The band slows down the tempo a bit with Fifth Ward. This is the perfect track to listen to after a long day at work. It has a sense of finality to it, and I personally would have put this as the last song on the album. It makes no difference where it sits in the order though, it will always be a great song.
Sunset Rock is next. By the way, Jazz Funk Soul is famous for not having any type of vocals in their music. This track, though, lends itself well for some lyrics. You will be writing your own as you listen to this…..I promise you!
Up next is Room W VU. It really sounds like we are sitting in on a jam session. All of the artists are featured here, including Alex Al on bass. Coming in at just under five minutes, I could actually use another three minutes of this.
The funk is turned back up one Where You At. You are immediately taken by that nasty guitar riff. Harp adds a little smoothness with the sax. They go back and forth between the two instruments, then towards the end, Lorber gives us the cherry on top with that piano. What’s not to like with this track?
The set concludes with Cadiwampus. Not familiar with that term? The urban dictionary defines it as “something that’s not right, strange, ass backwards, or crooked.” I have to say that there is nothing strange or crooked about this track. I tell you what, though, there are some nice horns in here. You can thank David Mann for that. Mann played with Tower of Power, so you know the horns are tight.
If you are a fan of the previous efforts of Jazz Funk Soul, then you will enjoy the new material. If you are new to the band, this will be a great introduction to their music. They take no prisoners with their musical style AND their execution is on point.