When I'm With You is the twelfth release from guitarist Chuck Loeb. Inspired by the musicians and people that have touched Chuck's life, this album explores the give and take process of creating meaningful music. With personal dedications to guitar master Jim Hall (his mentor at the age of 16), former “Boss” tenor man Stan Getz, and the genius Ray Charles, Chuck is not only tipping his hat to the past but carrying their musical influences into the future. When I'm With You is also a love letter to family and audiences alike, the two driving forces behind Chuck's musical soul. All this being true, Chuck will make clear, “I don't believe it's good to say too much about music…it should speak for itself.” *
The opening track, “Double Life,” is great number that has you tapping early and reminds me a lot of several Fourplay hits, with punctuation on the up beat. Loeb's guitar is “fat” and up front. There's nice horn backup that serves as a good backdrop for the guitar. “Tropical” is just that. Complete with birds in the beginning, the bass line pushes this one along as the guitar plays a haunting riff that will keep you humming long after it's over. “Uppercut” has a strong horn background and rich piano undertone that serves as a nice backdrop for some great licks from Loeb's guitar. This is sure to be a crowd favorite when played live. The riffs are clean, repeatable and very catchy. Loeb finishes this one up with some great playing that will make you say, “Yeah!” when it's finished.
“The Girl From Ipanema” is a nice look back at a classic Jobim hit. “Brother Ray” accents the front end of the phrases early and lends itself to horns and bluesy riffs from Loeb. Some nice piano work as well as the background horns gives this one a “Saturday night at the club” kind of feel. “Jump Start” is a nice upbeat number that features some good sax work that accompanies Loeb's guitar. The title track is a song that Loeb says "is a message to the people who listen to my music that's indicative of how I feel to be a musician visiting and playing in someone else's world." Listen to the vocals from his wife Carmen Cuesta and you'll see what he means. “Spanish Nights” is an insightful duet with piano that lends itself to a quiet night in a romantic setting.
“And Then Some” begins with an introduction to a theme that carries on throughout the song and is revisited time and again with varying changes and additions. “Home James” leads off with some heavy organ work, a touch of sax and the intertwining of Loeb's guitar before launching into a reverent Loeb number that all but finishes the disc. Tracks 12 – 15 are ten-second pauses that stall you from the finale entitled “All That!” It's an interesting concept that comes across like an encore at one of his concerts. It's worth the wait and is a punchy number that is pushed by a grooving bass line and snare of Brian Dunne. Loeb's guitar carries the tune with accompany from nice keyboard work.
If you're a fan of Loeb's, I'm sure you won't be disappointed on this release. I really enjoyed this one and look forward to hearing it on the road. There's a lot here for everyone and the great mixes only add to the fun of When I'm With You.
* from the Chuck Loeb web site
- H.A. Cline