By Kenya M. Yarbrough
(December 11, 2008)

*Legendary music man Jimmy Jam is all about reuniting. The super-producer, songwriter, and famed keyboardist, born James Harris, told EUR’s Lee Bailey that he is currently finishing up a new album with the Time, the famed funk-pop-R&B crew that scored a number of 80s and 90s hits such as “The Bird,” “Jungle Love,” and “777-9311.”

“We’re in the studio right now putting the final touches on a brand new Time album – all the original members,” Jam said. “We’re having a great time. We’re getting along, which is amazing.”

The group actually got back together just under a year ago when they performed on the Grammys. The Time apparently had such a good time on the awards show, they decided to take their act to Vegas and had a very successful turn of performances through the summer.

“[That] led us to ‘We’re all still getting along, why don’t we put an album together?’” Jam continued. “So we’re having a great time and hopefully at the beginning of the year, you’ll hear some brand new Time music.”

It’s been 18 years since The Time released an album with the original members. The band began breaking apart in the mid-80s, first with Jam and Lewis who became one of the most prolific writing duos in popular music. The group’s last album, 1990’s ‘Pandemonium’ featured members throughout: Morris Day and Jerome Benton on vocals, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis’ songwriting skills, and guitarist Jesse Johnson on several tracks.

The biggest challenge [for the new project] was getting everybody together initially. It wasn’t like we weren’t getting along with each other, but it was kind of like when you see someone and say, ‘Hey, we should get together and have dinner,’ but if you don’t actually set the date, it never gets done,” Jam explained.

He said that when the group was asked to play the Grammys, it all started to come together. The Grammy appearance was in essence the date for dinner.

“It was either we’re going to do this or we’re not going to do this, and if we’re not going to do it, then we’re not serious about getting this thing back together because that’s a great opportunity,” he said. “So when everybody signed on to do the Grammys then that all of a sudden became that point where we started talking about maybe we should do an album, maybe we should do some shows.”

Jam said that it was important that everybody get on board and had to be at the point in their life that they felt it was a priority to work on the disc. But he also admitted that he had the most reservations about doing the new album – because of other loves in his life.

“First of all, I love producing; I love writing. And secondly, I love my family and I was trying not to do things that would take me away from them,” he said. “But Vegas during the summer was great because our families got to come. And it was just like old times, but our families were there. That made it so that it worked and then that led into, ‘Let’s do an album.’”

“It’s something that not only we need just spiritually to do, but I think it’s something that the industry needs to see,” he continued. “[To see] a band and to see that – like the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith and some of the great rock bands that never seem to break up – that we have something important. I’m always heartened to see New Edition get back together because a lot of times, that just doesn’t happen. So I feel like we have an opportunity to do that and we’re going to do it and have a great time doing it.”

Jam also spoke about another reunion – one with his good friend Janet Jackson. Jackson, who’d worked with the team of Jam & Lewis for over two decades, but for her 2008 “Discipline” disc, Jackson chose not to have the duo contribute, a choice some fans and industry-ites thought unwise. However, Jam shrugged it off.

“We’re not perfect,” he said of the Jam & Lewis team. “We don’t always make the right decisions. We’ve done records in our time, luckily not many, but we’ve done some that weren’t the best records to do. We went into all the records with good intentions though. You don’t go into it saying, ‘Ooh, I’m going to make a bad record.’ You go in to make a great record. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We had mad records together for 20 years and she decided to go a different direction and I applaud her for it. I want to see her successful in whatever she does.”

Jam said that Jackson certainly doesn’t need to do anything; that a new project with them would simply be a want, as is with both the pending and possible discs.

“I think she’s anxious to do some work. And [The Time] is back together because we want to be together, not because we need to be together,” he said. “If we collaborate with Janet again, and by the way, I never thought that we wouldn’t collaborate again. Just because you work with another producer or decide to go the other way, that that closes the door of the possibility. We want to work with her and I think she wants to work with us and if that all happens, then that’s what we’re going to do.”