March 24, 2009
Heads Up Records

Album Review

Creatively, Chuck Loeb has had his ups and downs over the years. Some of his albums have been disappointing, but other Loeb releases have been a lot more memorable. The self-produced Between 2 Worlds, it turns out, is among the veteran guitarist's more consistent efforts -- not to mention one of his more organic. Excessive production has been a problem for Loeb at times; having a great deal of production and programming is fine for electronica, new age, and hip-hop, but it can become quite an albatross in a medium such as improvisation-driven as jazz. Thankfully, Loeb doesn't overproduce on Between 2 Worlds, and his lyrical guitar playing has plenty of room to breathe this time. In terms of production, less is undeniably more on an album that emphasizes pop-jazz but also contains some straight-ahead post-bop. Between 2 Worlds, which was recorded in New York City and Berlin, Germany, tends to be commercial, although it is tastefully commercial. "360" and "Early Turns to Late," for example, fall into the easy listening category, but they have some substance and avoid becoming outright "elevator muzak"; the same goes for Brazilian-flavored items such as "Hiram," the title track, and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Só Tinha de Ser Com Você" (which features singer Carmen Cuesta). Meanwhile, "Let's Play" and "The Great Hall" (as in Jim Hall) are straight-ahead post-bop, and this 65-minute CD moves into funky soul-jazz territory on "Mittens" and the boogaloo-ish "Let's Go" (both of which feature saxophonist Eric Marienthal, formerly of Chick Corea's Elektric Band). Between 2 Worlds isn't a remarkable album, but it is definitely a good, satisfying album -- and the fact that Loeb's guitar playing isn't suffocated by an unnecessary amount of production is obviously a plus.
Alex Henderson, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Let's Go
  2. Let's Go
  3. Hiram
  4. Hiram
  5. Mittens
  6. Mittens
  7. Between 2 Worlds
  8. Between 2 Worlds
  9. Oh No You Didn't
  10. Oh No You Didn't
  11. Let's Play
  12. Let's Play
  13. Sò Tinha de Que Ser Com Vocè
  14. So Tinah De Que Ser Com Voce
  15. The Great Hall
  16. The Great Hall
  17. Mean Old Man
  18. Mean Old Man
  19. 360
  20. 360
  21. Early Turns to Late
  22. Early Turns To Late
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