Over 20 years after first breaking onto the contemporary jazz scene as a member of Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, Eric Marienthal is a true global phenomenon, playing everywhere with a who’s who of jazz yet always saving his freshest, most exciting work for what’s coming Just Around the Corner—the name of his fourth CD on Peak Records.
Just Around The Corner gets off to a sizzling, fast grooving start with the album’s first single, “Blue Water,” the first Marienthal/Culbertson collaboration that backs the saxophonist’s emotional melody with lively keyboard harmonies, trippy chill flavors and vibrant horn textures. “Times Square,” which features the keyboards and programming of co-writer Lu, opens with a silky sax intro, then thumps into a mid-tempo funky flow on the verses that build to a blistering horn section chorus. The dreamy, old school ambiences behind the lead sax line and synth echoes of “Flower Child” display the incredibly cool and melodic chemistry Marienthal shares with Lorber; later in the track, the more aggressive drums of Dave Weckl kick it into high percussive gear. Most of the collection features the snappy electric guitar of Michael O’Neill, but the vibrant and brassy, perfectly titled driving Marienthal/Culbertson tune “Open Road” brings Ray Parker Jr.’s powerful, jangling axe into the mix.
The next two Marienthal-Lu songs, “21 Ocean Front” and the title track, perfectly capture the dual vibes of upbeat, jamming party music and sensual romance that run throughout the disc. The first features Marienthal’s soulful lead alto over mystical rock atmospheres, while “Just Around The Corner” amps up with a booming urban thump groove, O’Neill’s crackling guitar and scorching horn textures. The heartfelt ballad “I Believe In You” and the joyfully old school, unabashedly discofied “Dance With Me,” both written by Culbertson, Marienthal and Lu, offer up the same type of cool mood swinging; the saxman’s trademark lyrical power is at its peak on “I Believe In You,” and “Dance With Me” captures the wild synergy between the saxman and his co-writers brilliantly. The coolly percussive “Your Move” is vintage Lorber-Marienthal, with Marienthal’s rich emotional alto soaring above the keyboardist’s retro-soul textures. “Lost Without You” is the perfect coda for the disc, a gently wistful ballad that perfectly embodies the softer sides of Marienthal and Culbertson and the magic they create together.
“..Working on the new album with Brian and Stephen has pushed my own game to the next level. Just Around The Corner is a melody-driven, straightforward pop instrumental date that honestly reflects the musical groove I’m in right now.”