Talking about guitar masters Chuck Loeb is under the first artists to mention. Touched by his music one never can disassociate from his work again. Loeb started his career in New York with Ray Barreto, flutist Hubert Laws and drummer Chico Hamilton. Already in 1979 he joined Stan Getz's band. During that time he met and married vocalist Carmen Cuesta. In 1985 Loeb joined the group "Steps Ahead" with Michael Brecker, Michael Mainieri, Peter Erskine and Victor Bailey.

He has released several solo albums on the labels DMP and Shanachie. Besides his solo projects he also played in the smooth jazz group "Fantasy Band" which recorded three album between 1993 and 1997. Parallel he performed with the contemporary jazz group "Metro" with four albums on the Lipstick and Hip Bop labels between 1994 and 2002. As Bob James comments Loeb is deeply rooted in the jazz tradition. With his knowledge and virtuosity he is the real deal for Heads Up International. His first release for this label is scheduled on January 23, 2007.

The title "Presence" has a special sense for Chuck Loeb. "Nowadays, there's a lot of music that gets created in a laboratory. We all have computers, and we do things long distance. But it never ceases to amaze me how, as soon as you put the live musicians into the equation, it's their presence that brings the thing to life. That's the idea behind the album title -  the effect that an individual personality has on the music, both in the context of a recording and in a live setting."

Good To Go is a pointed melody. A good start for the album and Chuck's guitar solo which begins effortless from the main structure of the song. Remarkable: Chuck also plays keyboards, bass and drum programming on this and further tunes. This song was recorded at Automotive Recording, Chuck's garage or studio, as you will.

Ricki Don't Loose That Number was a mega hit for the group Steely Dan. It's one of the group's most gentle and accessible songs and first appeared on their album "Pretzel Logic" in 1974. Chuck's cover version has a nonchalant attitude. Dave Mann did a great job arranging the horns and performing saxophones and flutes.

Window Of The Soul offers a remarkable sound, the sitar, which is filling the gaps between Chuck's guitar riffs.

Chuck Loeb has also a romantic vein. Starting Over is an awesome example for all smoothies. Josh Dion (drums and percussion), Matt King (piano), Brian Killeen (bass) are Chuck's crew on this tune, which reminds me strongly at Pat Metheny's great themes. Matt King has recorded and performed with Rufus Reid, Chris Potter, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Joe Lovano, Jon Hendricks, John Patitucci and Bob Moses. Together with Chuck he creates a dense atmosphere combining jazz, new age and more musical elements of the past century.

Llevame means "You carry me" in Spanish. The title reveals Carmen Cuesta's Spanish roots. The dulcet Samba song was written more than two decades ago when both played together in the band Paralelo. "I've had experiences like this before where, even if he song is very old, I can't get the melody out of my head", says Loeb. "I got the main chorus from "Llevane" from all these years ago, and I wrote a new bridge for it and had Carmen sing on it. We recorded the whole thing in about a day. It was a spontaneous thing that we did together in our own studio at home. The lesson here is to never throw a good idea away." 

The title track Presence is dedicated to Carmen Cuesta's late father, Anastasio Cuesta. "We lost him about a year and a half ago, right before I started producing this CD", says Loeb. The contemplative appealing tune carries much sentiments in smooth waves.

After The Music Inside Chuck now presents The Music Outside. A funky smooth jazz tune build in his garage and refined in Mas Vell and La Cocina. I often heard such themes, but Chuck does it at it best. Mike Ricchiutti adds a small but perfect piano solo, that's the pinch of salt in a delicious soup.

On the tune The Western Sky Chuck is supported by the members of his group Metro, Wolfgang Haffner and Mitch Forman. The tune sounds like a Western movie score with much strings and the typical guitar riffs you find in this movies.

Hanging With You is featuring Andy Snitzer on sax, who also appears on the first track. I really appreciate it, when the sax isn't the lead instrument and the instrumental arrangement is well-balanced.

Mr. Martino is as the title says a tribute to legendary guitarist Pat Martino. "I've been a big fan of Pat's music since I was 16 years old, and last year I had two opportunities to work for him for the first time," comments Chuck. "So I finally got to know Pat personally after being a fan for all these years. I had dedicated songs in the past to George Benson, Wes Montgomery and other guitar players, but Pat needed to have his song to." The song showcases the brilliant contemporary jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb, many fans missed on his further albums. Breathtaking his dialogue with Matt King's organ.

Closer of this album is a cover of James Taylor's Shed a Little Light. "I just love the title and the lyrics and the spirit of this song," say Chuck. These guys (Mike Ricchiuti, Ron Jenkins and Brian Dunne) played with me for about eight or ten years, and they're very close to my heart. I'm very glad  to have them on a CD that represents a new chapter in my life."  Chuck plays his Sadowsky Archtop in a style which reminds me a little bit at Leo Kottke's bottleneck guitar sound.

Chuck Loeb's album "Presence" is a guiding principle for all smooth jazz artists how music is to produce, to arrange and to perform.