Bridges is the sublime collaboration of 2 of the most renowned instrumentalists in Jazz! Between them, saxophonist Eric Marienthal and guitarist Chuck Loeb have either written, produced, or performed on more than 50 Top 10 Smooth Jazz radio singles. Both have thrilled audiences around the world for more than 20 years as solo artists and featured artists in various groups: Marienthal with the likes of Chick Corea, The Rippingtons, Keiko Matsui, and Jeff Lorber and Loeb as co-leader of Fourplay and Jazz Funk Soul. Bridges represents these Smooth Jazz icons at their best, but it is more than just a Smooth Jazz album. As the title suggests, these Soundscapes bridge the gap between the commercial world of Smooth Jazz, the tranquility of New Age music, and the more artistic explorations that are at the heart of the true Jazz experience!
Saxophonist Eric Marienthal and guitarist Chuck Loeb team up for the relaxing 2015 studio effort Bridges. The album follows up the duo's previous collaboration, 2012's It's Love, which featured production from Loeb and showcased their synergistic musical creativity throughout. This time out, they share production duties on nine original compositions and one cover, an expressive reading of pianist Keith Jarrett's "Lucky Southern." Here, they are joined by the esteemed bassist John Patitucci, as well as drummer Byron Landham and percussionist David Charles…
Saxophonist Eric Marienthal is among contemporary jazz's busiest talents. On the day that It's Love was released, Marienthal also played a starring role on the Jeff Lorber Fusion entry Galaxy. The two albums reflect Marienthal's varied talents, as both a creative improviser and a lover of groove-oriented popular music. It's Love was produced by guitarist Chuck Loeb, who also appears throughout the set. Also in this studio band are Yellowjackets' keyboardist Russell Ferrante, drummer Gary Novak, and bassist Tim Lefebvre.
Altoist Eric Marienthal (who is also heard on tenor, soprano and baritone) plays well throughout One Touch but he is the only reason to acquire this disc. The backup, which includes keyboardist-producer Jeff Lorber, a few vocalists and guest appearances from pianist David Benoit and bassist John Patitucci, is mostly pretty anonymous. The originals are forgettable and usually fade out when the music gets too heated. With all of the selections clocking in between three-and-a-half and almost five minutes, potential radio airplay was obviously the main purpose behind the music, which is consistently commercial, accessible, mildly soulful and very predictable. At best, One Touch succeeds as background music but a close listen will frustrate listeners who know that Eric Marienthal is capable of much more.
Something of a smooth jazz oriented answer to the label's 2003 straight-ahead compilation Jazz After Dark, this highly engaging two-disc set features oft-played radio hits that have helped define the genre's generally easy grooves and colorful melodies. For diehard fans, smooth jazz has always been as about much about lifestyle as music, and these tracks will no doubt remind them just why they became devotees. All the early classics (circa mid-'70s to mid-'80s) are here, from Kenny G.'s "Songbird" and Dave Grusin's "Mountain Dance" to George Benson's "Breezin'" and Grover Washington, Jr.'s "Just the Two of Us." These are supplemented by later hits like Boney James & Rick Braun's "Grazin' in the Grass" and Dave Koz's "You Make Me Smile." But it's not simply an objective survey of smoothness at its best. The collection also seems designed to promote artists in the Concord Jazz stable – David Benoit and Russ Freeman, the Rippingtons, the Braxton Brothers, Gato Barbieri, Eric Marienthal, and Cassandra Reed, among others.
Jazz singer/songwriter Michael Franks is an artist most jazz fans feel strongly about one way or another. His unique, romantic poet-cum-laid-back hipster approach to jazz signing is breezy, light, and languid. It's also uniquely his own, though deeply influenced by Brazilian jazz, bossa, and samba. Time Together, his first recording of new material in five years – and his debut for Shanachie – is unlikely to change anyone's opinion of him, but that doesn't mean this is a rote recording. Time Together is an airy, groove-ridden summer travelog that ranges from St. Tropez and New York to Paris, France, and Egypt; it journeys through the nostalgic past and finds space in the present moment, with cleverly notated, languorous, ironic observations about life. Franks split the production and arranging duties between Charles Blenzig, Gil Goldstein, Chuck Loeb, Scott Petito, and Mark Egan. The rest of the international cast on this polished 11-song set includes old friends and new faces David Spinozza, Mike Mainieri, David Mann, Eric Marienthal, Till Brönner, Alex Spiagin, Jerry Marotta, Billy Kilson, Romero Lubambo, and backing vocalist Veronica Nunn.