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Jazz Funk Soul: Behind the Beats

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Jazz Funk Soul.

The supergroup JAZZ FUNK SOUL, Everette Harp, Jeff Lorber and Paul Jackson Jr, is back with a hot new single titled “Hustle” and a new highly anticipated album due out on August 5th. We grabbed a few moments with the talented trio this past week.

Jeff, the first single is titled “Hustle”. Tell us about this introduction to your new project “Forecast.”

I liked the title because the word Hustle has so many meanings. Certainly musicians in particular have to hustle, it’s a job that requires some serious entrepreneurial chops to say the least, it’s very competitive. The song has a pretty bright tempo and some excitement to it, I think. I wrote most of the music and Paul Jackson Jr. wrote the melody. We’ve already been playing it live and it’s been getting a good reaction.

And this new album, FORECAST includes ten original tunes. Please tell us about a highlight track for each of you.

Everette Harp – I guess a highlight track for me would be Hustle. I liked this tune by Jeff the first time I heard it. The energy of the track is great, and the chord changes are fun to play over. Jeff and Paul were both in top form soloing on this song. Gary Novak on drums with MonoNeon on bass really made this song drive like a Ferrari.

Jeff Lorber – Besides Hustle another song I really like is the title track Forecast. Like most of the songs on the record it gives each of us a chance to shine, and I think Everette’s solo over the bridge really takes the song to the next level. The song has a strong blues feeling, which is something I really like.

Paul Jackson Jr. - For me, the highlight track is “When The Time Comes” , composed by Everette. This song is a serious “nod” to the contemporary jazz of the 70’s. It has almost a Creed Taylor/CTI kind of feel, along with that type of orchestration, and harmonic shifts. I think this one will get us nominated for a Grammy.

Paul, a fellow artist once said to me that “Paul Jackson Jr is the guy…. he’s the guy you want on guitar every time. What do you tribute your ‘in demand’ status to?

My #1 desire growing up was to be a 1st call studio musician. This demanded that I really study various styles of music, so I could perform them with more than just a modicum of authenticity. This study has continued through the years, although I’ve focused more on development of my voice as a solo artist. And, the Lord has allowed me to put all of it to good use over the years. I’m still living the dream, and enjoying the ride.

The combination of JAZZ, FUNK and SOUL is the perfect blending of genres for the ‘smooth jazz’ world. How did you guys come up with this moniker?

Everette Harp - Well, when looking for a name we bounced around a few. Finally our manager at the time suggested Jazz Funk and Soul. It seemed a little odd at first, but when we got rid of the “and” it grew on us. The name was so apropos since each of these styles was so strongly represented in the group. I also like using the acronym JFS when referring to the group. It’s kinda cool.

We were all saddened by the untimely passing of Chuck Loeb in 2017… and I understand you have a tribute to Chuck on this new project?

Everette Harp - We all knew Chuck as one of the top contemporary and mainstream jazz guitarist on the planet, but an equally as strong writer and producer. He was so rich with talent. He was also such a wonderfully nice guy. A calming influence for Jeff, and my sometimes dominant personalities. He was the Zen Master. His passing broke my heart, especially since it felt like we were just getting started working together. I was so looking forward to my own musical growth just from playing with him. He brought it every night we played. Jeff and I had to match that every night. There was no coasting when playing with Chuck. That’s what I liked.

This new project has come about during a very challenging time for all of us. How did you guys pull this off, given the pandemic and all the challenges that have impacted all of us?

Everette Harp - Well, I’d have to say the pandemic only pushed the extreme the direction our industry has been heading towards since the late 90’s. Home studios. While home studios have been prevalent for some time, the idea of recording an entire record and never being in the same room with the musicians was not something I ever imagine. Covid brought this to fruition. This entire record was done remotely. At no time we’re we ever in the same room…physically. This was a first. I was introduced to a software called Sessionwire which allows in real-time musicians, producers, and engineers to work on tracks within a Zoom type app, but it allows the music to be heard from studio to studio in real-time and with full sonic accuracy. It’s almost like being there! This app was a God-send.

Jeff Lorber - Working during the pandemic was kind of a blessing in a way, because it was easy to really focus on the music without any distractions. It ended up being a pretty productive time.

Paul Jackson Jr.- Allen, make this album during the pandemic was a serious “team effort”. We had to plan every move, making sure that all of the songs have a “live” feel, even though we were not going to be in the same room. Fortunately, all of us have studios where we can compose and do lots of pre-production. Because Everette and I don’t live close to each other, we exchanged lots of musical ideas and performances online. Jeff lives pretty close, so for him, I’d just hop on the freeway, making sure to stop for 2 cups of coffee on the way.

Favorite track on the album?

Everette Harp – It’s hard to pick just one on this record. I feel strongly that this is our best record to date. But if I were to pick one it would probably be Fish Grease….a Paul Jackson song which I helped write on a little bit. This song has such as string Crusader with Larry Carlton like influence. Paul’s guitar work is so strong on this song. From his soloing to his rhythm playing, to his surprising dobro work Paul definitely shows why he’s one of the top recorded guitarist of all times. Needless to say I think Jeff and I rounded the song out very well.

Paul Jackson Jr.– This is a hard one. I think my favorite track on the album would have to be “CSL”. I wrote it as my own personal tribute to the great Chuck Loeb. He and I travelled along with Chieli Minucci doing a package called “Guitarzzz” several years ago. I loved being on the side of the stage listening to Chuck, and then going on stage and “dueling” with him. He was an amazing musician, and an even better person.

You three are all busy with JAZZ FUNK SOUL, as well as your solo work and guesting on various projects. What do you love to do in your spare time?

Everette Harp – Well, those people who know me know very well I got addicted to golf 17 yrs ago and have been hooked ever since. When home I try to play a couple days a week. It’s a great release for me, and frustrations from the game aside, it’s so serene. Allows my mind to clear and sometimes be my most creative. I wrote one of my favorite songs “All Jazzed Up and Nowhere To Go” on the golf course on two holes.

Jeff Lorber – One thing I did during the pandemic also was to work with Herb Alpert. We’ve been collaborating for over 20 years now, on and off, and it’s always a pleasure to spend time with him. He’s very creative and he’s still busy touring and recording after all this time.

Other that, I like to read a lot. I’m a news junkie and have a lot of other interests too, like science and technology. I like reading science fiction too.

Paul Jackson Jr. – Spare time??? What’s that??? No, seriously, when I’m not playing or writing music, I enjoy tinkering with my 60’s hot rods, the only cars I own. I also enjoy dog training. We have 3 German Shepherd Dogs. And I study the Bible every day, staying ready to give a sermon at the drop of a hat should anyone want one.

Keep up with Jazz Funk Soul via Shanachie Entertainment here.

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