Guitarist Chuck Loeb Spans the Globe on New Heads Up Recording
In many ways, each of us faces the world with multiple identities. On any given day, we are many things to many people, moving frequently from one persona to another. And in the end, the energy that emerges amid the transitions is what makes our lives sometimes challenging, but always interesting.
Guitarist Chuck Loeb understands this dynamic as well as or better than most jazz musicians. In the span of his prolific career that stretches across more than four decades, he has recorded and performed in countless corners of the world, forever balancing the bedrock elements of traditional jazz with the innovations of contemporary jazz. His ambitious schedule frequently takes him from his home in the U.S. to countless points on the map throughout Europe, Asia and beyond – places where the perceptions of his music in particular and jazz in general can vary greatly. Clearly, Loeb is an artist and musician who lives in more than one world, and moves with confidence among and between all of them.
His new album, Between 2 Worlds (HUCD 3151), is set for worldwide release on March 24, 2009, on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. The recording is a collection of material culled from sessions on either side of the Atlantic. The first seven tracks were cut in New York and the remaining four in Berlin. Regardless of points on a map, though, the two worlds that Loeb straddles on the album are more conceptual than geographical. Between 2 Worlds dispenses with much of the technology of his previous recordings and instead focuses on the basic trio of guitar, bass and drums.
“Normally my CDs are quite orchestrated, with plenty of keyboards and programming, but there’s virtually none of that on this record,” he says. “So it’s more of an open sound, and there’s more room for me to be the driving force on the record – harmonically, texturally and melodically.”
Despite the streamlined approach, he does enlist the help of a few friends along the way, including saxophonist Eric Marienthal, trombonist Brian Culbertson, trumpeter Till Brönner and several others. Even Loeb’s wife and daughter – Carmen Cuesta and Lizzy Loeb – lay down vocal tracks and take co-writing credits on a couple songs.
“I wanted to challenge myself to do something different and work a little harder,” says Loeb. “I wanted to take more responsibility for all the different textures and sounds, and provide my own harmonic bed to play on. And I have to do it at the same time that I’m playing the melody. So this record was definitely a challenge, definitely a little more difficult. But I think in the end it sounds a little more personal.”
Whatever new territory Loeb chooses to explore in Between 2 Worlds – be it on the map or in the music – he successfully carves out a place for himself and his listeners that’s rarely predictable, but always exciting. “I’m trying to push myself to be a rounder, more unique guitarist,” he says. “I think it’s important to keep challenging yourself. And I think I’m challenging my fans, because this record is a little bit more adventurous musically. If people have heard me live, then they’ll recognize this music right away. But maybe some people who have only heard me on the radio may say, ‘Wow, this is a little bit different from what he normally does.’ But in the end, it’s still Chuck Loeb, and they’re going to like it.”