Sunday, November 17, 2019

"Facts of Love" by Jeff Lorber with Karyn White

Song#:  2955
Date:  12/06/1986
Debut:  96
Peak:  27
Weeks:  16
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  Lorber was a jazz-based keyboardist who formed his own instrumental group, Jeff Lorber Fusion, in the mid-70s. They got signed to the NYC jazz label Inner City and released two albums in '77 and '78. Their smooth jazz sound became popular and for their third album they signed with Arista, a far bigger label that allowed them more exposure. Three more albums would follow all of which would find their way on to the Pop album chart. With Lorber's star rising, it came time for him to be billed as a solo act and the first album under just his name was 1982's It's a Fact. It became his best-selling album to-date reaching #73 on the Pop chart. Sensing that Lorber could be a bigger crossover act, Arista brought in R&B producer Maurice Starr to assist with Lorber's 1984 album In the Heat of the Night. It didn't expand his audience any further, so for his next effort, 1985's Step By Step, it was suggested Lorber collaborate with other more commercial writers and include songs with vocals. The title track, co-written by Lorber and Anita Pointer, would end up being a hit on the Dance chart getting to #4. It also got to #31 at R&B. Session vocalist Audrey Wheeler sang the tune. A second single, "Best Part of the Night" sung by Gavin Christopher, got to #15 on the Dance chart. Lorber also earned his first Grammy nomination for Best R&B Instrumental Performance for the track "Pacific Coast Highway." It all seemed to be working well, but pressure from Arista and the prickly Clive Davis made Lorber take off for Warner Bros. His first effort for them was 1986's Private Passion. It also featured some vocal tracks like this first single that was performed by session singer Karyn White. The song would go Top 10 at Dance (#9) while getting to #17 R&B and making the Pop Top 30. The hit would help the album get to #68 Pop, #29 R&B and #17 Jazz. It would be his peak crossover moment. But then Lorber decided that he'd had enough of trying to be a crossover star and retreated to session work for a while. He would return in 1993 in a more comfortable contemporary jazz fashion on Verve Forecast Records with Worth the Wait. More albums would follow and he'd reform Jeff Lorber Fusion in 2010. He would earn six more Grammy nominations finally winning in 2017 for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for the Fusion's Prototype.

ReduxReview:  This was a good, hooky tune that kick-started Karyn White's career (her 1988 debut album would spawn three Pop Top 10's). It also helped sell a few albums for Lorber. I'm not always sure what to think about singles like this though. Lorber was an excellent musician who helped bring smooth jazz to the masses and this track is nowhere near his usual fare. I think its a case of a label trying to force an artist to be a crossover star. I mean, they will sell more albums, they can have hits, yet they can sort of keep a bit of their writing and musical roots alive on other album tracks. I guess it is fine, but when it comes down to it this song could have been done by anyone. Lorber didn't write it (the production team Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers did). He plays keyboards, but not in a way that would truly identify him. Basically, it is a Karyn White single. Other fringe jazz or instrumental artists would do the same and score pop hits in the decade as well, but I just don't get it. People call it selling out. I'm not sure I agree. Why wouldn't you give it a try to help sell your own material and get people to your concerts? It just seems strange though because if you went to see Lorber in concert around this time, he would probably play this song, but the majority of the concert would be a bunch of smooth jazz noodling, which many folks didn't sign up for. Regardless, this was a solid track that was produced well, even though it is really selling Karyn White.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Whether you love or loathe soprano sax master Kenny G, you pretty much have Jeff Lorber to thank. Lorber brought Kenny Gorelick on board with the Fusion for their 1980 Arista album Wizard Island and its 1981 follow-up Galaxian. Lorber knew the young Gorelick had ambition and helped to sell him as a solo artist to Clive Davis. Davis finally bit and signed the newly christened Kenny G. In 1982, Kenny G would play on Lorber's first solo LP and release his own solo debut. It would do pretty well and his next two LPs increased his fan base. But it would be 1986's Duotones that would break him wide open as a crossover star. That album would go on to sell over five million copies.


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