WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE! * WELCOME TO THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE!

Eric Marienthal & Chuck Loeb — Bridges

August 30, 2015

A variety of moods, textures, and a convincing sense of completeness are major ingredients on this impressive collaboration between two Marienthal & Loebpillars of jazz: guitarist/producer Chuck Loeb and saxman/producer Eric Marienthal. Learning of this joint venture, entitled Bridges, I just knew it would a productive one full of aural surprises and comfort. It seems that I nailed it.

Full of sophistication, class, and that easy feeling one gets from well-played, well-produced jazz, Bridges takes the true jazz fan on a mellow, colorful journey.

With original tracks and a cover of a Keith Jarrett tune, the duo adds bassist John Patitucci to the equation and glides through this set with purpose and like a well-oiled machine. Tracks like the lead one entitled “Westward” and “Crossing” (inspired by Keith jarrett’s “My Song,” by the way) lend themselves to the warm and comfortable buoyancy you would expect from these two artists.

There is no mistaking this project for one of the R&B/jazz hybrids at all. This is pure intricate, quietly resounding jazz.

The interplay between the two artists is exquisite and graceful, and there is body and definition in each track.

The soothing appeal and musical fragrance of the project wafts through the whole album and includes the warm exoticism and seduction of Brazilian charm. Listen for some cool samba groove in “Lucky Southern.” There’s also the celestial feel of “Daily Bread” and the purity of “Sun Rays,” as well as a tender waltz-like finale called “Noir.”

No, this isn’t the smooth jazz you’d hear on something like Marienthal’s Just Around the Corner release or Loeb’s Presence album. It’s the sort of beauty that even jazz purists can appreciate, and it speaks to the diverse souls and drive of these guys. It eliminates any speculation that they could be even remotely one-dimensional. It speaks to why each is a jazz education unto himself. Pull up a chair and get educated to this side of each. – Ronald Jackson