He Had A Hat (Blue Note)

Jeff Lorber

Released April 3, 2007

Grammy Nominee for Best Contemporary Jazz Album 2008






The album, and title track, He Had a Hat, are named after the punchline of an old Jewish joke:

There is a grandma and her grandson on a beach. A big wave comes in and sweeps the child into the sea.

“Please, God,” she says, looking up at the sky. “Bring back little Mikey. I’ll do anything—feed the hungry, heal the sick—anything.”

Another big wave washes in, depositing the boy on the sand. “He had a hat!” she says.

The joke was told to Jeff Lorber by the album’s producer, Bobby Colomby, in the recording studio, and Lorber felt it fit in well with the album’s lighthearted mood

Jeff Lorber: Yeah, it is just a funny joke. We were just having so much fun in the studio making the music. It just kind of hit us in the right way when we thinking of titles for the album. There was just a lot of joy about making the music, and so the title captures that fun. The title is memorable, somehow.

All About Jazz: It definitely translates to the music. Did you have a set concept when going through the recording process on this album? Did you want to try new things—give the audience something different?
JL: Bobby Colomby and I co-produced and co-wrote the music. I have been a big fan of his. He was the founder of Blood, Sweat & Tears, which was obviously a very successful group, and it was also very innovative—stylistically all over the place. The debut CD of Jaco Pastorius was produced by Bobby. It varied stylistically and, in a way, that Jaco album was sort of a model for what I was hoping to come out with on this record—being at a very high level musically and having some great guests to collaborate with on the record.

I just wanted great songs, great music and great production; that was basically the goal. We didn’t really limit ourselves to a style. I think my last few records were more focused in terms of trying to create a specific sound for the record. On He Had a Hat it was much more eclectic and kind of all over the place. We have some straight-ahead jazz, funky grooves, Latin and vocal tunes. I think the thing that makes it cohesive is the fact that, you can hear my musical personality come through on most of the material. Harmonically, the material is interesting all the way through, no matter the style of each song.

AAJ: One of the many things I love about the album is the humanity behind each song. Especially when considering the titles such as “Grandma’s Hands and “The Other Side of the Heart. Every song is such a joy to listen to and there is something to appeal to everyone on this album.
JL: We definitely didn’t hold back. On a lot of different records you try to come up with the ten songs that you record. We actually recorded about twenty songs for this one and we cut that down eventually to the thirteen that are on the record. There is actually a bonus track that I think will end up being used for something, I’m not sure what. We just really wanted to give it a real full effort and not hold back at all. We wanted to put as much into the record as possible and exhaust ourselves in terms of any musical possibility that might be interesting to explore.


AAJ: I think that this album really is a testament to the wonderful career that you have as an artist, and really showcases the evolution in terms of creating something new and interesting.
JL: I just kind of look at this record as being the direction I would like to continue to go in. To make music that is harmonically adventurous and challenging. I am very lucky to have a collaborator like Bobby and great musicians like this to work with. I certainly hope to pursue that path of writing and recording.

Katrina-Kasey Wheeler (All About Jazz)

Track Listing:

1. Anthem for a New America (Bobby Colomby / Jeff Lorber) 3:48

2. He Had a Hat (Bobby Colomby / Jeff Lorber) 4:34

3. Grandma’s Hands (Bill Withers) Featuring: Eric Benét 4:06

solo: Gerald Albright

4. Surreptitious (Bobby Colomby / Jeff Lorber) 4:10

solo Randy Brecker

5. All Most Blues (Bobby Colomby / Jeff Lorber) Featuring: Tom Scott 4:25

solo: Tom Scott

6. Orchid (Featuring: Chris Botti) 3:54

7. Be Bops (Bobby Colomby / Jeff Lorber) 2:28

8. The Other Side of the Heart (Featuring: Paula Cole / Eric Benét) 5:35

9. Hudson (Bobby Colomby / Jeff Lorber) 3:58

solo: Bob Sheppard

10. Super Fusion Unit (Bobby Colomby / Jeff Lorber) 3:52

11. Eye Tunes (Bobby Colomby / Jeff Lorber) 3:50

solo: Hubert Laws

12. Requiem for Gandalf (Bobby Colomby / Jeff Lorber) 3:43

13. Burn Brightly (Bobby Colomby / Jeff Lorber) 3:52

solo: Russell Malone


Jeff Lorber: keyboards

Abraham Laboriel Jr.: drums (1, 2, 3, 8, 9)

Brian Bromberg: bass (1, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12)

Paul Jackson Jr.: guitar (2, 4, 8, 10), rhythm guitar (3)

Lenny Castro: percussion (2, 9, 10, 12, 13), tamborine (3)

Alex Al: bass (2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 13)

Kirk Whalum: tenor sax (2)

Gerald Albright: alto sax (3)

Paul Brown: guitar licks (3)

Eric Benet: vocals (3, 8)

Paula Cole: vocals (8)

Randy Brecker: trumpet (4)

Ada Rovatti: tenor sax (4)

Dave Weckl: drums (4, 10, 13)

Tom Scott: alto sax (5)

Chris Botti: trumpet (6)

Bob Sheppard: tenor sax (6, 9)

Vinnie Colaiuta: drums (5, 6, 7, 11, 12)

Hubert Laws: flute (9, 11)

Russell Malone: guitar (13)

The Krim Symphonic Orchestra (1, 8)

The Lair Studio Brass Ensemble (5, 10, 12)
Gary Grant: trumpet
Bob Shepard: flute, alto flute
Steve Durnin: french horn
John Mitchell: bass clarinet
Richard Todd: french horn
Jeff Driskoll: alto flute
Bob McChesney: trombone
Craig Gosnell: bass trombone

The Blood Sweat and Tears Horns (4, 7, 9, 11, 13)

Teddy Mulet: trumpet, flugelhorn

Steve Jankowski: trumpet, flugelhorn

Tom Timko: saxophones

Jens Wendleboe: trombone, bass trombone

Recorded at JHL Sound, Pacific Palisades, CA, Sunset Sound and Capitol Studios

Produced by Bobby Colomby

Recorded by Jeff Lorber and Dave Rideau

Mixed by Paul Brown and Jeff Lorber (4, 6)

Mastered by Chris Bellman

Photography: Jeff Bender

Artwork: Carla Leighton


A sophisticated showcase for his varied jazz styles, Jeff Lorber’s He Had a Hat finds the pianist moving from softly funky pop-jazz numbers to a few straight-ahead swingers. Always an urbane and tasteful musician, Lorber has often found a good balance between contemporary pop oriented material and more cerebral improvisational cuts, and He Had a Hat is a prime example of this duality. To these ends, tracks like the title cut and the frenetic “Surreptitious” evince a kind of Tower of Power meets Brecker Brothers funk. Fittingly, trumpeter Randy Brecker adds his supple chops to the latter track. Similarly engaging big-band numbers like “All Most Blues” and the afterglow ballad “Orchid” bring to mind both early- and late-period Miles Davis, respectively. Also joining Lorber here are a bevy of name artists including trumpeter Chris Botti, vocalist Paula Cole, saxophonist Gerald Albright, and many others.This CD was nominated for a Grammy award in 2007 for Best Contemporary Jazz Album.

Matt Collar (AllMusic)