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Mike Stern & Jeff Lorber Fusion at The Iridium December 22, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Theatre, Travel, Weather.
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I made my fourth trip to The Iridium Jazz Club on Thursday night to see Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber Fusion perform. Not only was it the last show of their four-night engagement at The Iridium, but also the last show of their tour.

I bought my preferred seating ticket on October 1, four days after the release of Eleven, Mike and Jeff’s collaborative album. Before Thursday, I had seen Jeff, a keyboardist, and his Fusion bandmate Jimmy Haslip, bass, three times each. For Jeff, my first time was the first night of Smooth Jazz for Scholars in 2014, followed two months later by the Fusion’s appearance at Blue Note, and 19 months after that, I saw them at Birdland. Obviously, two of the three times I’d seen Jimmy was those two Jeff Lorber Fusion shows, but I also saw him with Yellowjackets in 2006. (He left the band about five years later.)

This was my first time seeing Mike Stern, as well as his wife Leni (“Lainie”), also a guitarist, and drummer Dennis Chambers.

It was very cold as I stood on the platform at Wantagh LIRR station just before 6:00, and the gusty winds didn’t help. I was only up there a few minutes because the ticket office was unlocked, which was only slightly warmer, but it was a tough few minutes.

I thoroughly enjoyed Eleven, which I’ve listened to several times since September 27, including during the train ride to Penn Station.

Once at Penn, I took the E train to 50th Street. The station let out at 51st and 8th Avenue, so I had to walk a block east to Broadway to get to The Iridium. It was 7:05 when I arrived.

I initially stood on a small line outside the entrance, not realizing that preferred seating ticket holders could go in before 7:30. When one such ticket holder showed up, I acknowledged my mistake and walked down the stairs inside where ticket holders were let in one at a time. Unfortunately, there was a draft from the front door constantly opening and closing. It was a relief once I entered the venue itself.

The host seated me at a table by the stage, but I felt uncomfortable with the lack of space between chairs. So, I was reseated at a small table facing the left side of the stage that had two chairs on opposite sides. That was much better.

From the menu, I picked Pasta Bolognese which came with a couple of slices of bread; delicious.

The TVs cycled through upcoming bands until 8:30 arrived. Showtime.

The energetic and gregarious Mike Stern led the way on guitar:

Jeff Lorber played a pair of Yamaha Montage 8 synthesizers:

Jimmy Haslip on bass:

I color corrected Jimmy’s pictures because they were too blue and red.

Dennis Chambers on drums:

…and for seven of the nine songs, Leni Stern, Mike’s wife, on additional guitars. She played ngoni on the first tune, “Like a Thief” from her Sabani album, which she also sang:

…and electric guitar:

The happy couple:

Five of the nine songs in the set were from Eleven:

  • Motor City
  • Jones Street
  • Nu Som
  • Runner
  • Slow Change

Wide shots from the end of “Motor City”:

The end of “Jones Street”:

“Slow Change,” the finale, was my favorite on the album and my favorite Thursday night, ending in an extended jam:

The end of the song:

Mike asked if we wanted one more. Of course we did.

The encore was a Jimi Hendrix cover sung by Mike – “Look Over Yonder”:

With that, the set and the tour were complete.

Before bundling up for the trek back to Penn Station, I met and greeted Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber. I spoke to Jeff more than Mike, reminiscing about the last time I saw the Fusion play in 2016 with Andy Snitzer on saxophone and Lionel Cordew on drums. We talked about what they were up to lately. Lionel was in the audience for one of Wednesday’s sets. I didn’t get to say much to Mike before we posed for a picture:

Mike didn’t realize I wanted both of them in the shot, but I’m satisfied with how it came out.

Just as I was about to leave, I noticed Jimmy Haslip walk by. We spoke briefly and posed for a pic:

The set ran longer than I thought it would, so I didn’t have much time to get to Penn Station for the 10:45 train to Babylon, which would arrive in Wantagh an hour later. Not wanting to look for a subway line to ride to Penn, I ran and walked 17 blocks. I was on the train with a minute to spare. Thanks to the double whammy of two shows at Madison Square Garden – Andrea Bocelli in the arena and Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Twas the Night Before in the Hulu Theater – the train was standing room only! Not a single car offered relief. I learned this from one of the passengers I stood next to in the car. The situation was initially frustrating, but everyone in my end of the car bonded through conversation about where they’d been, which led to other topics. Once the train reached Rockville Centre, the crowd began to thin. 15 minutes later, I was in Wantagh. By midnight, I was home in bed.

I had a wonderful time. Thanks to Mike, Jeff, Leni, Jimmy, and Dennis for 90 minutes of musical bliss.

Whether or not you’ve seen Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber Fusion in person, Eleven is a must. It even has a horn section.

Comments»

1. Passport Overused - December 22, 2019

Great post 🙂

2. Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall: The one I almost saw | MikeChimeri.com - February 5, 2020

[…] site has been quiet since my recap of Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber just before Christmas. I would have had a recap of Lisa Hilton‘s annual Weill Recital Hall […]


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