Chuck Loeb, Guitar Great, Passes in New York

By Deborah Howell

He was the kind of guy who designed his vacations around his daughter’s passion for tennis.  The kind of guy who preferred to hang out at home in Nyack with his lovely wife Carmen and their kids rather than make “the scene.”

He was so self-deprecating and unassuming despite all his successes that he was sometimes referred to as the Clark Kent of the jazz world. A certified sweetie-pie.  Just ask anyone who ever spent any time with him.

And yet the music he made both as a solo artist and as a member of the supergroup Fourplay, was epic.  I liken his guitar sound to liquid… so seamless in its flow you could just drink it up blissfully and feel its cooling effect.

After studying for a couple years at Berklee School of Music,  Loeb moved to NYC and played with jazz phenoms Chico Hamilton, Ray Barretto, Hubert Laws and Freddie Hubbard.  In  1979, Stan Getz asked Chuck to join his band and he worked with Getz for about five years, eventually becoming his musical director. While with Getz he met and married the Spanish singer Carmen Cuesta with whom he had two children, Lizzy and Christina. Getz was the best man at their wedding.

In 1984 he joined Michael Brecker in the band Steps Ahead, with whom he toured and recorded for several years. Chuck would always mention Brecker as an important musical influence. In 2010, Loeb replaced Larry Carlton in the smooth-jazz super-group, Fourplay, with whom he toured and recorded for many years.

Loeb was a prolific composer of contemporary jazz but also of compositions for film and television. His credits include theme music for ABC’s NightlineOne Life to Live, the Montel Williams Show, the Atlanta Braves, the New York Yankees and Knicks, and ESPN NCAA College Basketball.

Chuck was a huge baseball fan, often checking out his Yankees on the radio. However, his most high-profile theme was for CNN Headline News. “You know the one—it ends with the three eighth-note triplets on the tonic,” said bassist Will Lee. “He may possibly go down in history as one of the world’s most-heard composers, since this piece is heard around-the-clock in countries all over the world.” Loeb also played on numerous film scores including The UntouchablesYou’ve Got Mail, and Hitch.

Rest in peace, brilliant, sweet man.  You’ll always be untouchable. No one plays it like you did.

 

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