Jeff Lorber (born November 4, 1952) is an American keyboardist, composer, and record producer.
Many of his songs have been featured on The Weather Channel's Local On The 8s segments, including appearances on the channel's compilation albums, The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz and The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his 2007 Blue Note Records release He Had a Hat.
Lorber was born to a Jewish family in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, the same suburb as fellow musicians Michael and Randy Brecker, whom he would later play with. He started to play the piano when he was four years old and after playing in a number of R&B bands as a teen, went on to attend Berklee College of Music, where he developed his love for jazz and he met and played alongside guitarist John Scofield. He moved to Vancouver, Washington in 1972. He also studied chemistry at Boston University for several years.
The Jeff Lorber Fusion (1977-1981)
His first group, The Jeff Lorber Fusion, released their self-titled debut album in 1977 on Inner City Records. Supported by a revolving cast of musicians including longtime drummer Dennis Bradford, Lorber recorded five studio albums under this moniker. These early releases showcased a funky sound influenced by other jazz fusion practitioners such as Herbie Hancock, Weather Report and Return to Forever, the latter's Chick Corea appearing on several Fusion cuts. Like his contemporaries, Lorber performed on multiple keyboard instruments including piano, Rhodes piano, and various analog synthesizers, often favoring the Minimoog and Sequential Circuits Prophet 5.
"Rain Dance", found on the 1979 album Water Sign, was sampled for the 1996 Lil' Kim single "Crush On You". It was also sampled for the track "Love Like This" (featuring Lil' Cease) on SWV's 1997 album, Release Some Tension.
The Jeff Lorber Fusion's 1980 album, Wizard Island, introduced a young saxophonist, Kenneth Bruce Gorelick, better known as Kenny G.
Solo career (1982-present)
In 1982, Lorber recorded his first solo album It's a Fact, which explored Lorber's R&B roots with a smoother, more synth-heavy sound. The album featured a new backing band as well as contributions from former Fusion bandmate Kenny G and Paulinho Da Costa. It's A Fact also contained several songs with vocalists, a stark contrast to the instrumental recordings of the Fusion.
1984 was a prolific year for Lorber, who followed up his solo debut with In the Heat of the Night and Lift Off. Later that year, Lorber teamed up with the production duo David Frank and Mic Murphy, otherwise known as The System, to produce his most successful effort to date, Step By Step. The title track rose to number 31 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart. The song "Facts Of Love" (featuring Karyn White) from the 1986 album Private Passion was his biggest chart hit, reaching #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #17 on the R&B chart. Several singles from this period also appeared on the Billboard Dance charts. However, Lorber was not satisfied that he was being overtaken by a more vocal and R & B feel on his own albums so he took a seven-year-long hiatus. After Step by Step, he quoted Clive Davis as telling him, "We really want you to put more vocals on your records", which Lorber thought as a mistake.
Lorber's keyboard work was featured in the PlayStation video game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. His input can be heard during the game's closing theme song "I Am the Wind" (which also featured the saxophonist Gerald Albright).
His subsequent albums continued to evolve in a smooth jazz direction. Two greatest hits compilation albums, The Definitive Collection and The Very Best of Jeff Lorber, were released in 2000 and 2002 respectively. To date, he has recorded a dozen solo albums, including 2005's Flipside which was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category. At the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, his 2013 album Hacienda was nominated Best Pop Instrumental Album.
Lorber has done extensive production and session work for other artists including Dave Koz, Eric Benet, Herb Alpert and Laura Branigan. In addition to his recording and performing, Lorber also hosts his own show on Sirius Satellite Radio.
In 2004, Lorber was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and received a successful kidney transplant from his wife, Mink. He has served as a spokesman for the PKD Foundation, an organization for fighting polycystic kidney disease. He has mentioned that the disease is common in his family, that not only do his daughters, Nica and Jessica, have it but his mother and sister died from it.