Although I was familiar with Chuck’s reputation and his music, I didn’t really get to know a lot about him until we were together on a two-week tour of Russia and the Ukraine in January of 2008. With subfreezing temperatures and a lot of travel ahead of us, the difficulty of the trip brought us all together as friends stuck in a tough situation. We had a couple days off after we got to Moscow, and on those first evenings—with lots of jetlag—we hung out until very late at a local coffee shop. So before we played one note together, I had a chance to get to know him a bit and found him to be quite charming. I discovered that in addition to being a world-class musician, he was very interested and informed about the world in general and current events, and he had some very strong opinions on politics. Since his wife was Spanish and they had a vacation home in Valencia, he was much worldlier and better informed than most American musicians.
Chuck was bitten by the music bug early on, and he became very proficient and played locally in many different situations while growing up in Nyack, N.Y. He sought out Dennis Sandole, a teacher in Philadelphia who mentored both John Coltrane and Pat Martino (whose playing was a big influence), and studied at Berklee. In his mid-20s Chuck joined up with Stan Getz, who acted as the best man at his wedding.