Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Over the last twenty years the compelling hooks and immodestly rich tones of sax-man Eric Marienthal have ensured his music has remained on the cutting edge of the very best in smooth jazz. Now, with his new CD Just Around The Corner, which hit record stores across the USA on October 16, he is back and better than ever with ten original tunes plus wonderful collaborations in the company of some of the best writers, producers and performers that the genre has to offer.
In fact the scene is set from the very first cut as Marienthal combines with Brian Culbertson for the lusciously mid temp ‘Blue Water’. Co-written and produced by Culbertson, the tune glistens with injections of his distinctive keys and it’s another Marienthal – Culbertson number, the tranquil ‘Lost Without You’, which closes out this excellent album. Sandwiched between is a riotous collection of ‘full on’ smooth jazz that befits the credentials Marienthal earned while with The Rippingtons and ensures that both the title song and the uplifting ‘Times Square’ pass by in an energetic haze. Each of these Stephen Lu produced tracks feature the excellent Michael O’Neill on guitar and the threesome is back, first for the mid tempo ‘Ocean Front’ and again with ‘I Believe In You’ where Marienthal’s playing takes a more tender yet none less attractive path.
Marienthal first worked with Jeff Lorber in 1991 on the Oasis CD and here his contribution on ‘Flower Child’ ensures a smooth masterpiece that is both sultry and catchy. When Lorber returns for ‘Your Move’ his presence on keys is huge and, with Paul Brown featuring on acoustic guitar, the songs understatedly jazzy opening gives no hint of the heights to which Marienthal’s urgent delivery ultimately drives it. ‘Open Road’ is yet another supercharged tour de force that finds Marienthal at his immaculate best. Michael Stever plays trumpet, the inimitable Ray Parker Jr. is on guitar and with Brian Culbertson multi tasking between trombone and keyboards they together blow up quite a storm.
Perhaps the tune that best defines Just Around The Corner, and indeed Marienthal’s own special style, is the edgy ‘Dance With Me’. Co-written by Lu, Culbertson and Marienthal it fizzes with vitality throughout and is right up there with the best tracks of the year. Replete with smooth jazz of the highest order and without a cover in sight Just Around The Corner is well worth trying. For more go to www.ericmarienthal.com.Posted by Denis Poole at December 15, 2007 9:09 AM