Chuck Loeb – Between 2 Worlds

OK, does Chuck Loeb need an introduction? I thought not. This is his second release as a leader for Heads Up International. Both the title and the music reflect the way Chuck’s time is split between the USA and Europe and the influences that this lifestyle has on his writing and playing.

The bright and breezy opener Let’s Go is propelled by the tight drumming of Dave Weckl and features some sizzling guitar work. It’s adventurous and soulful at the same time. The horns are superb on this track and Brian Culbertson even shows up to deliver a trombone solo. The energy in this recording is incredible – who calls this ‘smooth jazz’? Fans of this music will know and appreciate the immense contribution of the late Hiram Bullock. This tribute to him, ‘Hiram’, drips with sadness and beauty, much of that beauty encapsulated by Will Lee’s fretless bass work. In a recent interview, Chuck told me Will was playing a bass owned by another sadly missed musical friend, Jaco Pastorius. This is a masterpiece.

Mittens is a showcase for that delicious, warm semi-acoustic sound I have long associated with Chuck Loeb. Horns and a great rhythm section play a perfect supporting role on a song that’s catchy and accessible, and always jazz. Exquisite – to my mind this is how a modern guitar jazz album should sound. Reinforcing the reason for the title of this album, Between 2 Worlds co-written with Chuck’s wife Carmen, is a sexy Latin number featuring Carmen’s breathy vocals. Carmen has plans to release a strongly Latin-orientated album before long and if husband and wife create this type of musical chemistry, I for one will be looking forward to hearing it.

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