Glenn Astarita

Chances are, and perhaps unknowingly, you’ve heard guitarist Chuck Loeb performing on TV scores and commercial jingles amid his comprehensive career, spanning jazz-fusion, contemporary jazz and music productions. As a first-call session ace, Loeb has been in the thick of matters, hearkening back to the 70s. As a solo artist, he’s merged contempo jazz with fusion and other jazz-inflected horizons. However, “Plain ‘n’ Simple” marks his advent into the jazz organ-combo schema, featuring celebrated drummer Harvey Mason and talented young organist Pat Bianchi.

Loeb’s expansive jazz and blues vernacular is prominent here. And while he doesn’t profess to explore unchartered musical vistas, he exudes taste, warmth, and lets it fly on occasion via fluid bop lines and articulately crafted dynamics. Ultimately, the band lays down a brisk groove quotient, abetted by the guitarist’s zinging harmonics, bluesy inflections and razor-sharp unison lines with Bianchi.

Loeb and Bianchi whirl through melodic swing and bob motifs amid the intermittent reverse-engineering processes. However, the soul-blues component remains an underlying factor, which is a stylization that parallels the classic organ-combo ideology.

The band ventures into a low-key, yet suave Brazilian vibe via Carmen Cuesta’s sultry vocals on “E Com Esse Que Vou Eu.” Although, they sojourn back into the bop framework during “You Got It,” which is a piece that highlights Bianchi’s fluent mode of attack, marked by sparkling single note phrasings and brisk accompaniment. And on Mason’s ballad “It’s About You,” Loeb’s poignant notes accentuate his deeply emotive sensibilities as a guitarist. Indeed, this outing should enjoy a broad spectrum of appeal, since it is nicely balanced by the instrumentalist’s significant technical abilities and compositions built on memorable themes. Loeb’s exuberance and passion shines radiantly throughout… – Glenn Astarita

Chuck Loeb: guitar; Harvey Mason: drums; Pat Bianchi: organ. Also featuring on select tracks – Lizzy Lobe: vocals; Will Lee: bass; Mauricio Zoratelli: percussion; David Charles: percussion; Till Bronner: trumpet; Nathan Eklund: trumpet, trombone; Eric Marienthal: saxophone.