Eric Marienthal

Street Dance

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Sometimes, artistic evolution is best achieved with collaboration. A developing performer, strong in certain areas, teams with a veteran who offers complementary expertise, and the results can be...well, in the case of Eric Marienthal and Jeff Lorber, some of the genre's snazziest melodies and most combustible grooves since 1991. On both that year's Oasis and 1993's One Touch, Lorber's edgy keyboard bravura offered the Elektric Band saxman the ultimate playground for riffs ranging from silky and steamy to joyfully schizofrenic. While those discs were balanced production wise with Russell Ferrante's artsier jazz sensibilities, Street Dance fully entrusts the capable Lorber to funk around, then smooth out the punchier edges himself. A wise choice all around. While the musical soul mates seem to have the most fun on pulse-accelerating wailers like "Shake It Loose," Marienthal's truest expressions emerge on cooler cookers like the toe-tappin' title cut and more poignant gems like "Yosemite," on which he laces the more heartfelt side of his alto with late-nite flute sprinklings. On these, as well as with the alto/soprano weavings on a smoky cover of Genesis' "Hold on My Heart," Lorber mellows his own tendency to overfunkify, creating easygoing soundscapes rather than the wall of in-your-face insanity to pleasing effect. All of these fuse together in trademark Marienthal fashion, echoing certain pieces from previous discs, but with some of his freshest hooks ever (he co-wrote seven tunes).

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