A lot of what you hear on contemporary jazz radio can be traced to the influence of the Jeff Lorber Fusion, which flourished from 1979 to 1986.
It was a light electric cocktail of jazz licks, winding melodies, R&B, funk and rock rhythms, a mixture that has traveled from Billboard’s crossover jazz charts to morning TV themes.
Yet Lorber has been relatively invisible to the public since 1986, even as the sound he helped pioneer became more and more popular.
On Tuesday, Lorber returns to the recording wars with a new album, “Worth Waiting For” (Verve Forecast), his first in seven years. The sound is familiar, with a breath of hip-hop influence in the rhythms and a funky, smooth surface that perfectly mirrors the ambience of driving around his Pacific Palisades neighborhood.
“I never made any tremendously clear-cut decisions to get out of it, get back into it or anything,” said Lorber. “It just happened that way.”
After disbanding the Fusion, Lorber retreated to the near-anonymity of session work and eventually started producing in his home studio. He has been in demand for his remixing talents — such as his work on U2’s “Desire” and Prince’s “Melody Cool.”
Producing saxophonist Art Porter’s 1992 debut disc on Verve/Forecast helped Lorber land his new Polygram record deal. And he is slowly feeling his way back to the stage with a gig at the Five Spot club in New York City and some dates in L.A., San Diego and the Bay Area. “This record is a sort of spontaneous, energetic approach to instrumental music,” he said, “stuff that’s geared to live performance instead of just being a studio construct.”