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Chuck Loeb aiming at reaching the audience

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Guitarist has three appearances during Berks Jazz Fest

STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media

While Grammy nominated jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb has not attained the commercial notoriety of some of his contemporaries, his critically acclaimed prowess on the guitar has earned him a place among the elite in the world of jazz.
Recognized around the world for his solo efforts as well as his work with “Steps Ahead” and “Fourplay,” Loeb once again joins a stellar line-up of artists at this year’s impending Berks Jazz Fest for appearances on April 1, 5 and 8.

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IF YOU GO
The 27th annual event takes place March 31 through April 9 at various venues throughout the greater Reading region. For details, concert schedules, performers and more, check www.berksjazzfest.com.

“I think I’ve been playing the Berks Jazz Fest at least the last 15 years. I think the first time was ‘96, ’97,” recalls Loeb while waiting for his flight at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. “Each year I do multiple events at the festival. I feel very at home there. It’s one of my favorite festivals, maybe my favorite festival in the whole world because it’s like family at this point. The folks that put it on are very special people.”

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“It spans ten days,” adds Loeb. “I’m playing with Foreplay, doing my own show, doing a show called “Bop” and then the all-star jam. For guys like me that are kind of part of the Berks family, it’s an event. It’s a really important bonding event where you see a lot of the guys, the players are all my favorites. It’s a real homecoming.”
“Any opportunity to get out and play your music for people is important, the Berks in particular, because it’s such a big audience and they do such a good job of promoting it,” says Loeb. “It’s a very important festival in that regard.”
Initially influenced by rock and roll, Loeb’s introduction to the guitar was ignited by listening to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Led Zepplin.
“For me because I grew up being influenced more by pop rock, blues and stuff like that, I discovered jazz a little later,” recalls Loeb. “Jazz incorporates, especially contemporary jazz, a lot of the elements of all those different kinds of music, which I love.”
Discovering the world of jazz at 16, Loeb was drawn to the work of jazz legends Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, George Benson and John McLaughlin. Ultimately studying guitar at the Berklee College of Music, Loeb headed to New York City in the mid 70’s to pursue a career as a professional musician. Earning his chops performing with Chico Hamilton, Ray Barreto, Stan Getz and Michael Brecker, Loeb released his debut solo album “My Shining Hour” in 1988.
“To define jazz, it’s a little bit difficult to give a definition,” says Loeb. “You can always say that it’s improvised American music, but we incorporate so many elements from across the world that you can’t really limit it to that. Jazz is music based on collaboration, improvisation and creativity at a very high level. It is music that combines rhythms that people can relate to with complex improvisation. I think you draw people in with the swing and the groove of the music and then they are open to hear some of the complexities of the harmony and melody and improvisation that is within that framework.”
It wasn’t until his album release “The Music Inside” (1996) that Loeb attained commercial success when the title track reached Number One on the jazz charts. Subsequent album releases “Moon, the Stars & the Setting Sun” (1998), “Listen” (1999), “In a Heartbeat” (2001), and “All There Is” (2002) earned Loeb much needed exposure. His work can be heard in a variety of TV shows and commercials as well as on the soundtrack for the films “The Untouchables,” “You’ve Got Mail” and “Hitch.”
With more than two-dozen solo, collaborative and compilation releases to his credit, Loeb earned a Grammy nomination for “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album” for his “Unspoken” album in 2016.
“It was very exciting,” recalls Loeb. “I did not win unfortunately. Just to be nominated was great. It was my third nomination. I’ve yet to win one but I look forward to the time when I can go up and grab the little statue. I’m not giving up.”
“I’m starting to rev up over the winter, things have been a little bit slow, but things are starting to heat up now,” adds Loeb. “ I have some shows with “Fourplay” and some of my own shows and I will also work with “Jazz, Funk, Soul” which is myself, Everette Harp and Jeff Lorber and other things here and there.”
“The most important thing is that I want people to come away feeling positive with a smile on their face and song in their heart,” says Loeb. “I want to be able to reach them. Make their day a little bit better…their life as good as it can be and hopefully just make them want to hear more. I would like them to come away thinking, ‘I want to get more of this music’ that continues a relationship with an artist and their fans.”
“I feel very satisfied,” says Loeb. “I feel I get a lot of recognition for what I do. People all across the world know my music. Of course I’d like to elevate my music and reach more people. If I were to look back at my career if it ended now I would say I was very happy with where I ended up.”
To stay up to date with Chuck Loeb visit www.chuckloeb.com

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