Veteran contemporary jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb hinted at what was in his head with 2009’s Between 2 Worlds, a swinging project that built on his frequent straight-ahead gigs in New York, and with his fusion band Metro. Plain ‘n’ Simple is a trio project with Fourplay bandmate Harvey Mason on drums and Pat Bianchi on funky organ.
The organ trio boasts a distinguished history in the jazz canon, and Loeb has found his Jimmy Smith or Groove Holmes in Bianchi, who boasts two CDs as a leader and co-founded the Unity Project, a tribute to the late B3 master Larry Young. Heavy on soul and the blues, Plain ‘n’ Simple has eight Loeb originals and two from Mason. Loeb CDs are family affairs, and wife Carmen Cuesta shimmies through bossa classic “É Com Esse Que Vou Eu” while daughter Lizzy Loeb seductively breathes her way through “Skylark.”
Loeb’s lightning-fast runs on “Organeleptic” and “Annie’s Song,” as well as his thoughtful notes on the title-track ballad, come as no surprise to those who have followed his career. It’s hard to see how Loeb can return to laying down smooth-jazz tracks, especially when there are few radio stations that play it-and, besides, he’s already worn out that groove. It looks as if Loeb has many more jazz avenues to explore in an exciting future.
[Editor’s note: Chuck Loeb died on July 31, 2017. Read JT’s obituary on Loeb.]