Smitty: It’s certainly a real treasure to have joining JazzMonthly.com today a great instrumentalist, one of the most complete instrumentalists out there today. He’s just released a fascinating new project, it’s called Presence, and I am so excited to talk with this cat. He is a great producer, a marvelous arranger; he has worked with some of the best in the business, and here to talk about this great new record and his career, please welcome the amazing Mr. Chuck Loeb. Hey Chuck, how are you?
Chuck Loeb (CL): Well, I’m doing a lot better after that introduction, Smitty.
CL: Yeah, I’m doing great, thank you. Things are going real well. Everything is good and I’m happy with the new CD that’s out and I’m glad to be here talking with you.
Smitty: Oh, man, thanks. The same here. And, hey, you’ve hooked up with a new label, with Heads Up. How ‘bout that? You’ve got some exciting stuff happening. You’re starting the year off right.
CL: Yeah, it’s…you know, change is good sometimes, I think, and it feels good to be with Heads Up, with a company with the roster that they have and with the people they have working for them. I was with Shanachie Entertainment for ten solid years and it was a great time for me. It was awesome. But sometimes it’s good for change to happen, both for me and for everyone involved, and it feels good, feels right.
Smitty: Yeah, and it kinda gives you a fresh approach to some things and some new things happening with music, and it’s always a beautiful thing when you’ve got something fresh out there and creates just another creative vibe, you know?
CL: Yeah, absolutely. That’s exactly what it is. It’s a fresh take on things.
Smitty: Yeah, I must tell you that I am loving this new record. Wow. And the title is Presence and I always get intrigued by those one-word titles so please talk to me about Presence.
CL: Yeah, I haven’t had a one-word title in a while….I’ve had a few of ‘em. I had Listen and Balance. Those are going back a few years.
CL: But I think I had a few titles that were really long. I had The Moon, The Stars and the Setting Sun Some people gave me a lotta grief about that.
CL: So I just wanted to be concise on this one, you know?
Smitty: Yeah, absolutely.
CL: To me it’s all about the human presence in music and in life, and how each of us impacts on each other and nothing happens in a vacuum, and each person that contributes the human element to a project just brings so much to it. It widens and deepens the project, and that’s what, to me, what the title is about.
Smitty: Yeah, and it’s dedicated to Anastasio Cuesta.
CL: Yeah, Cuesta. Yeah, that’s Carmen Cuesta, who is my wife of almost 28 years, believe it or not.
Smitty: Wow! Congratulations, man.
CL: (Laughs.) Thanks, she’s from Madrid, Spain, and when we met, you know, sometimes people click with their in-laws and sometimes they don’t. For me I was in a great relationship with my father-in-law and, in fact, my mother-in-law is with us now for the holidays. She’ll be with us for a few months. But we lost her father about two years ago now, and it was a very impactful experience for me. I never was actually in the same room and house with someone as they left this earth and I was with him. And as I saw his presence leave us and go to, you know, the next place, it was an impactful experience and I wanted to dedicate it to him.
Smitty: You know, I think you’re right on there. Two of the most impactful experiences we can ever have are the birth of a new life, to be there and see that actually happen, and when someone leaves us. Those two things, they’re so opposite of each other, but yet they can have a very profound effect on us.
CL: You’re exactly right and I remember when my daughters came into the world, it was so surprising to me how much of their unique personality was there immediately.
CL: And again, the same thing as someone leaves, you see that their presence is sorely missed.
Smitty: Yes indeed. Well, that was a beautiful thing to dedicate the record to him. That’s very cool. Well, talk to me a little bit about this first track, man. You started this record off in such great fashion with “Good To Go” because it’s just got that upbeat funky vibe, and I must tell you, Wolfgang (Haffner) has got it going on with the drums, doesn’t he?
CL: (Laughs.) He does, yeah.
Smitty: Wow! Man, I….
CL: You know, Wolfgang brought the funk all the way from Germany, you know? He really did. He’s quite a guy. (Both laugh.) This guy….he’s from a little town…it’s funny the way music spreads out, right?
CL: He’s from a little town called Altdorf, Germany, outside of Nuremberg and I don’t know how the music made its way there, but boy did it find him, I’ll tell you!
Smitty: (Laughs.) Yeah, he has got a seriously funky vibe.
CL: Yeah, he does.