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Chuck Loeb: Between 2 Worlds (2009)

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Chuck Loeb: Between 2 Worlds How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

As its title suggests, Between 2 Worlds finds guitarist Chuck Loeb's sublimated split personality at last openly revealed. A household name in smooth jazz circles, the former Steps Ahead luminary this time throws the dice with a program heavier on the straight-ahead jazz component that composes the core of his musical upbringing. Does this project mark the dawn of a new beginning, a passage to this other world? Only time will tell.

Customarily dressing the table with a set of his glossy, high-sheen wares, the second half of the program finds the agile guitarist delving into some more substantiated, post-bop-type purlieus, not without the same unbridled enthusiasm and passion that characterizes his pop-jazz work. That said, like those that preceded him in such indissoluble mixing of genres (and aesthetics)—Lee Ritenour
Lee Ritenour
Lee Ritenour
b.1952
guitar
being a rather convenient comparison—the final product unfortunately falls flat in the face of artistically more focused covenants. Too much of this, not enough of that, the apanage of the MOR modicum.

From the funky, bluesy stroll of the Robben Ford
Robben Ford
Robben Ford
b.1951
guitar
-tinged "Oh No You Didn't" (featuring daughter Lizzy's soulful vocals) things take a radical turn as Dave Weckl
Dave Weckl
Dave Weckl
b.1960
drums
's rollicking kit work introduces the supercharged, intervallic theme of "Let's Play." A brisk minor blues with booming chordal interjections, the piece emphatically celebrates the precise, George Benson
George Benson
George Benson
b.1943
guitar
/Pat Martino
Pat Martino
Pat Martino
b.1944
guitar
/Mike Stern
Mike Stern
Mike Stern
b.1953
guitar
school of picking.

Halting a brief moment for wife-vocalist Carmen Cuesta's grazing Tom Jobim's tranquil "So Tinha De Que Ser Com Voce," Loeb then launches into the open-strings voicings that open "The Great Hall," a luminous waltz recalling John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie
b.1944
guitar
's mid-70's to mid-80's work that most probably got its title after his former teacher, the great Jim Hall
Jim Hall
Jim Hall
1930 - 2013
guitar
. Though the latter composition is rich enough to endure repeated listening, other tracks may, to some, defy the threshold of tolerance namely, "Hiram," a dedication to the late Hiram Bullock
Hiram Bullock
Hiram Bullock
1955 - 2008
guitar, electric
, the title track, and the closing sleeper, "Early Turns To Late."

A deft technician with years studio experience behind him, Loeb demonstrates with Between 2 Worlds that his straight-ahead fretwork certainly needs to be reckon with, championed even. But, whether learned jazz listeners will buy into such disparate programming remains improbable.

Track Listing: Let

Personnel: Chuck Loeb: guitars; Carmen Cuesta: vocals (2, 4, 7); Lizzy Loeb: vocals (5); Eric Marienthal: saxophones, flute; Till Broenner: trumpet (3); Nathan Eklund: trumpet (4), trombone (1); Brian Culbertson: trombone (1); Pat Bergeson: harmonica (11); Will Lee: bass (1-3, 5); Dieter Ilg: bass (8-11); Gerald Veasley: bass (2, 6); Dave Weckl: drums (1-3, 5-7); Wolfgang Haffner: drums (4, 8, 9-11); Bashiri Johnson: percussions (1-3); David Charles: percussions (5, 7, 10, 11).

Record Label: Heads Up International

Style: Contemporary/Smooth


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