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-
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.