Chuck Loeb

The Moon, the Stars and the Setting Sun

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Many smooth jazz artists view song titles as an afterthought, so it's refreshing to see guitarist Chuck Loeb play a romantic connect-the-dots with the names of the nine originals on The Moon, the Stars and the Setting Sun. Sure, it's a little corny to follow the sweet little tale strung together by ellipses (i.e. "...the stars...above us...shine on...while we speak...of love and the setting sun") but it gives us a glimpse into Loeb's mindset of this sharply played, generally laid-back project. Sometimes, the stroll is melancholy. Over floating synth washes, he generates a crying effect via lengthy acoustic notes, which are echoed by the subdued Sanborn-esque touches of Nelson Rangell (on the swaying James Taylor cover "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight") and Andy Snitzer. Aware that listeners probably already know the sad lyrics, Loeb cries out over gentle synth drum beats on Boyz II Men's "Water Runs Dry." One of Loeb's trademarks is his ensemble-minded approach, and deferring to a lively two-minute Bob James keyboard solo on the Brazilian-flavored piece makes perfect sense; the disc offers the same sort of gently rhythmic flavors as a James-Earl Klugh collaboration.

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