Chuck Loeb's All There Is is proof that one can be a tasteful guitarist working in the often-derided smooth jazz style and still be capable of making albums that are more than just easy listening sludge. Recorded in a simple small-group setting with no extraneous "special guests" around to muddy up the sound, Loeb unspools ten originals and tasteful covers (none of the tacky '70s AM pop crossover attempts that marred 2001's In a Heartbeat) in a relaxed style that never quite gets mellow in the pejorative sense. Clearly inspired by Wes Montgomery and George Benson's work with Creed Taylor, Loeb steers clear of the pitfalls endemic to that style, maintaining melodic interest while never merely playing prettily. Even the Brazilian-influenced "Sarao," which flirts with Chuck Mangione-style disco-pop thanks to the utterly retro ARP synth line and cooing female vocals, maintains its integrity thanks to some trickily precise soloing by Loeb and a rhythm section that actually has a bit of funk to it. All There Is is not for those raised on a diet of Ornette Coleman and ESP, but there's a place for mood music, and this does it better than most.
All There Is Review
by Stewart Mason
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