Eric Marienthal has a stellar live performance. I
attended his concert in Düsseldorf some years ago. He spell bounded the
audience with his music and appearance. An artist, playing not only
onstage but in between the audience, that was a new experience for me.
He was joking with the listeners and opened the music for ears and
Eric is one of the most prolific and blessed sax
player of our generation. During his terrific time with Chick Corea
sharing stage, recording 6 albums and winning 2 Grammy awards,
everybody knows Eric as Chick's sax player. Eric became one of the
most in-demand sax player of contemporary jazz. He played on over 50
GRP records alone including records by Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin,
David Benoit, Don Grusin, Dave Weckl, John Patitucci, GRP All-Star Big
Band and The Rippingtons.
He started his solo career and released Voices
of The Heart (1987), Round Trip (1989), Crossroads
(1990), Oasis (1991), his first record with Jeff Lorber, One
Touch (1993), Street Dance (1994), Easy Street
(1997) and Walk Tall (1998). Currently, Eric is signed to the
Peak Records label. "When Russ asked me to join the Rippingtons, he
also offered me a deal with his label and I jumped at it. Playing with
the Ripp's has been incredibly fun for me and the band is awesome!”,
comments Eric. Turn Up The Heat (2001), Sweet Talk
(2003) and Got You Covered (2005) are already released on this
label. His newest album Just Around The Corner was released
October 16, 2007. Three producers and arrangers gave artistic form to
the new album: Brian Culbertson, Stephen Lu and Jeff Lorber.
Some critics say that the first notes of an album
are important for buyer's decision to obtain a CD or not. The starter
Blue Water has all ingredients to satisfy the audience, great
intro and a hooking melody. Brian Culbertson plays like a young god on
his piano and Eric has that special seductive sax sound which will
mesmerize all at once.
Stephen Lu co-wrote with Eric the following
Tim Square. Stephen founded in 1999 Chibola Productions. He has
worked on projects ranging from rock and r&b to smooth jazz and music
for television. In the smooth jazz genre he produced or
performed on albums of Norman Brown, Michel Lington, Michael Manson,
Jimmy Reid, Dave Koz and Brian Culbertson. So it was Brian who
recommended Stephen to Eric. Eric comments:
"A young guy
with a fantastic ear for what's fresh and current. The chemistry
between the three of us was immediate, and we wrote some tunes
together and then Stephen and I wrote three songs that also made the
The result is absolutely convincing.
The title of the third song Flower Child
reminds me somehow at the Woodstock Festival. But this song is more
contemplative than glamorous. More mood than defined the tune lives
with a constant flow. Dave Weckl, Jeff Lorber and Paul Brown are on one
set, that's Eric's attraction.
There is no doubt that Brian Culbertson is a real
hit maker. That's evident while listening to the captivating Open
Road. Eric Marienthal is the best to transfer Brian's notes to a
vivid sax performance. 21 Ocean Front is full of melancholy.
Feelings connected to a place and sensitively interpreted by Eric.
Just Around The Corner makes no
difference. Stephen Lu has a good hand in writing emotions into notes.
Eric comments: "I named this record Just Around The Corner
because you never really know what's around the corner in music or in
life. After a couple of wild years in my own life I realize this now
more than ever. Right when you think something's gonna go one way, it
go the other. (Doesn't that just drive you nuts?!?!) That's why I
wanted to have my hands in the writing of these songs so much. I
really knew what I wanted this record to feel like and I'm really
thankful that Brian, Steve, Jeff and I all had the same musical
direction in mind."
The soulful ballad I Believe In You
combines strength, confidence and affection to an emphatic melody
perfectly performed in Eric's way. The up-tempo Dance With Me
showcases Eric's wilder side. The melody is realized in several layers
using the overdub method.
Jeff Lorber produced Your Move brings in
some Funk. Jeff Lorber's shuffle technique finds the ideal platform in
the retro sound of his Rhodes piano.
The album ends with the slow heartfelt ballad, a
lyrical duet of Eric on sax and Brian on piano. A great place for
With Just Around The Corner Eric
Marienthal showcases anew that no musician can create a better smooth
jazz album than a contemporary jazz musician. And when Eric describes
his album as a "melody-driven, straightforward pop instrumental" than
this is only a concession to the critics, which are still moaning
against the use of the term jazz in this genre. Don't try to
pigeonhole good grooves.