Several tracks on Chuck Loeb’s All There Is pay tribute to individuals who profoundly touched his life, and the smooth-jazz guitarist articulates his feelings in ways that are engaging and melodic without becoming mawkishly sentimental.
A few albums back, Loeb dedicated a tune to his longtime friend, Special EFX leader George Jinda, who was battling a serious neurological disorder. Jinda died in January, and to honor his friend, whose plainspoken career advice he deemed “fundamentally sound,” Loeb composed the plaintive “Fundamentally Sound,” which features haunting saxophone by Andy Snitzer. On “In the Hands,” dedicated to Loeb’s old friend Jaco Pastorius, a warmly lyrical melody rides a textured groove, although it would have been nice to hear bassist and co-composer Will Lee featured as more of a melodic voice. One of the album’s most touching pieces is “Golden Heart,” written for Loeb’s beloved golden retriever, Steffi, who succumbed to bone cancer late last year. Loeb composed “Golden Heart” with his two daughters, and together they created a ballad whose gentle beauty no doubt reflects that of its subject.
Not all of the standout tracks have specific dedications: keyboardist Mike Ricchiuti takes the spotlight on the soul-jazz flavored “Tenerife Blue,” and Loeb’s fluid guitar trades off with Ricchiuti’s piano on the swinging “As Is.” Loeb’s wife, singer-songwriter Carmen Cuesta Loeb, surveys the manifold aspects of love on the delicate vocal track “Love Is All There Is,” which brings All There Is to a graceful close.
[Editor’s note: Chuck Loeb died on July 31, 2017. Read JT’s obituary on Loeb.]