Eric Marienthal has been around the block, musically speaking. Beginning a career with the great trumpeter, Al Hirt, he began a parade that would walk him through stints with Billy Joel, Elton John, David Benoit, Johnny Mathis, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, and BB. King. Of course, there are many others but the above listing is impressive enough as is.
Marienthal was also a member of Chick Corea’s Elektrik Band, recording 6 albums with the jazz unit. In his solo career, he has released 11 albums with his 12th being the smooth jazz of Just Around the Corner. Just Around the Corner is a big-city jazz album, with a saxophone that is above the usual.
I’ve always envisioned jazz music as belonging to the heart of a big city – Chicago, NYC, LA – and little place else. Although that is clearly an arguable point, even invalid, it is what works my heart as I sit and listen to jazz in its many forms. Smooth jazz, a more current flavour of jazz that has been around for several decades, is what permeates this album, creating a flow of relaxation and appreciation.
The album begins with the excellent and soft-form “Blue Water,” and is dominated by Eric’s saxophone, an instrument that he is well-versed in, and which shows by his playing of his alto, tenor, and soprano saxes, particularly as he blends them in several songs. “Flower Child” is a lazy, Sunday-afternoon park tune that successfully captures what Eric was going after musically. The contemplative “21 Ocean Front” is excellent as is the mournful “Lost Without You.”
Just Around the Corner is a very enjoyable album of saxophone in a smooth jazz setting that you’ll definitely get replay value out of. If you like saxophone, especially played well, you’re going to really like Just Around the Corner.