Eric Marienthal's ability to infuse traditional bebop fire into a contemporary pop framework has made him one of the genre's most durable saxmen over the course of his decade-long career. He seems a little more restrained than usual throughout the aptly titled Easy Street, his debut on Lee Ritenour's ie Records, but still manages enough variety from hip-hop to blues to classic soul to shades of jungle soundscaping - to rank this up there with his best GRP output. While Rit produced and zips in a few flashy guitar solos, it's Marienthal's collaborations with the very different keyboard styles of Rob Mullins (midtempo funk), Jeff Lorber (smooth soul), and John Beasley (fusion and worldbeat) that keeps the flow interesting. The adventurous spirit sneaks around in more subtle ways this time, often based on the surrounding production. So while Marienthal plays it cool on the title track, for instance, Rit's guitar and Rick Braun's trumpet slip in a laid-back Miles vibe, kicking the tune up a notch. Marienthal finds a way to liven up even a fine but fairly conventional cover of "Until You Come Back to Me" with quick flashes of flute harmony transcribed from an old Joe Farrell version.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran