He Had a Hat

He Had a Hat

This 2007 album proves that after almost 30 years of recording, Jeff Lorber is still putting out some of the best work of his career. Lorber’s first album for the reconstituted Blue Note label, He Had a Hat features a well-rounded selection of material, all of it bathed in a full-bodied and naturalistic production sound, courtesy of Bobby Colomby. “He Had a Hat,” “Hudson” and “Eye Tunes” reconfirm Lorber’s talent for insistent but understated funk grooves, while “Super Fusion Unit,” “Requiem For Gandalf,” and the simmering “Orchid” (featuring guest trumpeter Chris Botti) showcase the ethereal side of his style. The most prominent tracks are the two vocal contributions. Paula Cole’s “The Other Side of the Heart” is a surprisingly natural fit for this setting, while Eric Benet ably handles Bill Withers’ classic “Grandma’s Hands,” as Lorber and band move the rhythm with the gentlest touch. Even the tracks without vocals impress upon the listener memorable melodies. There is a lyrical quality to “Anthem for a New America” that makes it possible to envision the words even in the absence of a vocalist.

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