WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE!

Chuck Loeb – Unspoken

Sept. 21, 2016

Master jazz guitarist/visionary Chuck Loeb again rolls out yet another fine project, Unspoken, that further compliments and hails the chuck-loeb-unspoken-cdintricacies and meticulous nature of well-played J-A-Z-Z. Here’s another perfect example of how the well-polished artist, who now boasts 18 albums to his credit as a leader (counting this one), can dash between solid straight-ahead styles and melodies to the contemporary smooth stuff and that which carries the emotive and exotic Brazilian touch.

Here on Unspoken, we are tantalized by the Jeff Lorber/Loeb connection with “Cotton Club,” a nicely paced steppin’ piece with a lot of the trademark sound of both artists, followed by another high-steppin’ very melodic track called “Natural Light,” featuring saxman Andy Snitzer.

The album is chock full of luminaries like bassist extraordinaire Nathan East and keys funkster Brian Culbertson – both of whom appear on the laid-back cool title track, the ever-present and always satisfying horn master David Mann on tenor sax, flute, and horn arrangements on several tracks, Everette Harp on alto sax (check out the smooth, alluring “Affinity”), the always captivating Carmen Cuesta who lends her fine vocals on “Way Up High” a sultry and delightful Brazilian journey, and many others who offer bright spots throughout the album. You’re also in for a special treat as Loeb’s daughter Christina offers her talent on ukulele and joins her mom on vocals on the lovely finale “Via Verde.”

As mentioned earlier, this project is a great blend of the sophistication of traditional jazz chops, contemporary flair, and exoticism. Of course, one would expect no less from one who has proven himself over and over to be among the elite in a field that can be as broad as the vision of the artist who looks at it and mulls over just what he or she can bring to it. Loeb has been bringing on every one of his 18 albums a truckload of fresh ideas and brilliance that only color this genre with the brightest of colors. That truck is probably still full of great music yet to be heard. A two-thumbs-up effort. – Ronald Jackson