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."