Chart-Topping Grammy Winning Contemporary Jazz Pioneers Eric Marienthal & Chuck Loeb Build Bridges on their First Co-Led CD Fusing Styles & Influences
The art of the duo is as intimate as it gets in jazz. Two minds, two distinct creative energies and two souls interwoven to conceive one symbiotic sound and vision. Bridges, (released August 21, 2015 on PeakRecords/Shanachie Entertainment) the new recording from celebrated saxophonist Eric Marienthal and guitar wizard Chuck Loeb, demonstrate so poignantly what two dynamic forces can accomplish when they are of like mind. Collectively Marienthal and Loeb have lent their creative energies to such iconic stars as Stevie Wonder, Stan Getz, Chick Corea and B.B King. The duo's shared strong musical connection, camaraderie and influences coalesce on Bridges creating a breathtakingly beautiful journey through ten riveting tracks. "Chuck and I both felt as though we were crossing a bridge to a completely different direction," confesses Marienthal. "It was very exciting to be able to stretch and try new things. After all, isn't that a big part of what jazz is all about?" Loeb adds "Eric is a great creative partner and an amazing musician. He's very demanding of himself, and inspires me to do the same." Although Loeb and Marienthal have collaborated with one other on stage and in the studio previously, Bridges is their first co-led project.
When Eric Marienthal and Chuck Loeb set out to record Bridges there were a few albums the duo drew inspiration from including Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek's My Song, Bill Evans and Jim Hall's duet recordings and Pat Metheney/Lyle Mays' CD As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita Falls. Just as the title suggests, Bridges seeks to push the boundaries and explore diverse musical terrain. The much anticipated project from two of contemporary jazz's most sought after pioneers enlists help from three seasoned musicians; bassist John Patitucci (Chick Corea, Roy Haynes, Wayne Shorter), drummer Byron Landham (Shirley Scott, Betty Carter and Joey DeFrancesco) and percussionist David Charles (Michael Franks, Bob James, Bill Evans).
Bridges opens with the enticing and intoxicatingly warm "Westward," which delights with its shifting meters, fugue-like and buoyant melody. Loeb and Marienthal's graceful, lyrical and tender interplay sets the scene for the wonderful journey ahead. The absence of piano on the album really allows the dynamic duo to experiment with the textures melodically, harmonically and rhythmically. Marienthal explains, "The intention was to create an open sounding recording with fewer elements so that each instrument takes up a larger part of the sonic landscape. You can hear more detail in each sound and I think it gives the effect of bringing the music closer to you and more up front." The breezy and tender ballad "Crossing" follows and is inspired by Keith Jarrett's composition "My Song." The scorcher "Puentes," meaning "Bridges" in Spanish, catapults Loeb and Marienthal to new heights as they explore the percussive side of their instruments with a Latin tinge. Loeb and Marienthal first toured with one another years ago in Spain, which is where Loeb's wife, singer Carmen Cuesta, is from and where he resides half the year with his family. Loeb also got one of his early starts writing and performing with master conguero Ray Barretto. A highlight on Bridges is the surprising burner "Last Minute Blues," which finds Loeb and Marienthal tearing it up at break-neck tempos and swinging from beginning to end with their fiery cohorts, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Byron Landham. "Daily Bread" is another standout and features Marienthal's beautiful soaring soprano dancing amidst Loeb's virtuosic, agile and graceful guitar. Bridges also features the spirited samba "Lucky Southern," the yearning "Salamanca" and the soul-drenched "Duality." The intense and majestic "Sun Rays" follows and the album concludes with the memorable and sensual waltz "Noir."
A graduate of Boston's esteemed Berklee College of Music, Eric Marienthal received the school's Alumnus Award for 'outstanding achievements in contemporary music' in 1995. His music has graced the top of the contemporary jazz charts and has been featured in numerous television commercials, shows and film scores. With thirteen solo albums to his credit, Marienthal has been called upon to record on hundreds of albums as a sideman. The saxophonist launched his career in 1980 with famed New Orleans trumpeter Al Hirt. After returning to his native Los Angeles, Eric became a member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band, recording six albums with Corea's band and receiving two of his seven Grammy nominations. Marienthal, who's won two Grammys as part of the GRP All-Star Big Band and Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, has collaborated with everyone from Elton John, Barbra Streisand and Billy Joel to Stevie Wonder, Lee Ritenour, George Duke and Patti Labelle. Marienthal's most recent solo recording is It's Love on Peak Records. He's written three instructional books and every summer for the past 17 years he has organized an annual fundraising concert for High Hopes, a non-profit organization in Orange County, California that works with people who have suffered traumatic head injuries. He has raised over $1,500,000 to date. The Los Angeles based saxophonist, composer and producer shares, "I am blessed with a great family, my wife Lee Ann and our grown kids Katie and Rob. It's the greatest blessing to have a tight relationship with your family. With four busy people it takes an effort to make time for each other. Family and music definitely go hand in hand."
Chuck Loeb studied with legendary guitarist Jim Hall and is also an alumnus of Berklee College of Music. The prolific guitarist, composer and producer is a member of the world-renowned super-group Fourplay (along with Bob James, Nathan East and Harvey Mason). With 18 solo albums to his credit and two Grammy nominations (one for his album Jazz Funk Soul CD with Everette Harp and Jeff Lorber and a second for his song "December Dream" on the Fourplay recording Esprit de Four), Loeb has had an enviable career that has spanned four decades. Few artists can boast to have worked with such diverse stars as Bob Dylan, Carly Simon, Anita Baker, Freddie Hubbard and Stan Getz (who happened to have been the best man at Loeb's wedding!) Dubbed the "Clark Kent Of Jazz Guitar" by The New York Times, the in-demand producer has provided the Midas Touch for pianists Bob James and Keiko Matsui, singers Jon Lucien and Michael Franks, saxophonists Kim Waters and Gato Barbieri and fellow guitarist Larry Coryell, to name a few. Loeb's most recent solo album is Silhouette on Shanachie Entertainment. In 2015 Loeb collaborated with Marienthal on the CD Bop, which Loeb produced along with Jeff Lorber, that featured Marienthal and others and highlighted the music of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk among others. The CD was recorded in an effort to raise money and awareness for The Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation PKDCure.
"I really like the fact that Bridges feels different than anything I've done before," confides Eric Marienthal. Chuck Loeb continues, "We decided to abandon all the labels and just look for music that touched all our collective experiences." The duo hopes to bring their audiences together whether they are smooth jazz fans or jazz purists. As Loeb attests, "Those groups are not mutually exclusive!" With the release of Bridges there is no doubt that these two creative geniuses will achieve their goal.