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July/August 2001

Chuck Loeb
In a Heartbeat
Shanachie

Guitarist Chuck Loeb plays in such an elegant, easygoing style, that his chorusey tone fits easily into the sweet "smooth" genre pieces populating radio airwaves. On In a Heartbeat, Loeb's graceful chops sweep through this familiar territory, which at its best is romantic and atmospheric, but can also dip into the more sanitized "easy listening" arena. Into the former category go tracks like the album-opening tribute "North, South, East and Wes," which finds Loeb's cornered, melodic play supported by Nestor Torres' beautiful flute work. A medley of two pop chestnuts, Stephen Bishop's "On and On" and Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" runs the gamut: where Loeb catches just the right flavors on lower-register guitar and sax (by David Mann) to lift the first tune beyond its original, the light-touch approach to "Fire" falls a little flat for such a sexy tune. Loeb does take some interesting sidesteps on Heartbeat, though, including a light sprinkling of fusion flavor on the change-up timed "Santa Cruz," and some doodling funk over a solid (but still elegant) horn section on "Rhythm Ace/Funky Stuff." Perhaps the album's best showcase is the sweet club-jazz "Sway," which shines a perfect spotlight on Loeb's champagne-sparkling-
light touch guitar work, as well as David Mann's warm sax and flute work.

Originally published in July/August 2001
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