Various Artists: Jazz for Couch Potatoes

Guitarist/producer Chuck Loeb leads a top-notch ensemble whimsically dubbed the Couch Potato All-Stars through a collection of popular television themes on Jazz for Couch Potatoes! (Shanachie). In other hands, this could have been a cheesy exercise in faithfully (and boringly) recreating tunes we’ve heard a million times before, but Loeb, a talented guitarist with solid jazz chops, used the melodies as starting points for some very compelling jazz improvisation.

In some cases, the group found completely new ways of presenting the themes. “Gilligan’s Island” transforms into a buoyant Latin jam, while “Gunsmoke” becomes a smoky jazz ballad. The whistling is gone from “The Andy Griffith Show,” but in its place is Loeb’s acoustic trio, which swings its way through the tune. While “Sanford and Son” misses the original’s quirky funkiness by a hair, it’s still a fun jam that features lively soloing by trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Kim Waters.