About Eric Marienthal
Eric Marienthal is a Grammy-winning contemporary jazz saxophonist, composer, vocalist, and producer. Establishing his jazz bona fides as a sideman with Al Hirt and key memberships in the Chick Corea Elektric Band and Jeff Lorber Fusion, he embarked on a successful solo career as a bandleader and recording artist with Voices of the Heart in 1988. The saxophonist's crystal-clear, emotive yet icy tone registered with smooth jazz radio programmers, who admired his seamless approach to integrating jazz-funk, soul, pop, and quiet adult contemporary R&B. His commercial breakthrough occurred with 1991's Oasis, which peaked at number five on the contemporary jazz charts. Along with his own recordings, he's played with everyone from Elton John and Stevie Wonder to Barbra Streisand and David Lee Roth. With the release of 1995's Street Dance, his albums also began charting on the standard jazz list as well. Among his many best-selling outings are 1998's Walk Tall and 2015's Bridges with Chuck Loeb.
Marienthal was raised in Sacramento and attended the Berklee College of Music for two years. Following his departure, he went on tour as a hired gun and relocated to New Orleans after being hired by trumpeter Al Hirt. While a member of Hirt's group, he auditioned for the Disneyland Band. He got the gig and left Hirt. Marienthal worked full-time as a staff member and as a studio and live musician.
In 1986, he met Chick Corea and soon thereafter earned a spot in his Elektric Band. He recorded six albums and made several world tours as a member of that group. He landed his own recording contract with GRP as a solo artist during this period. His first date as a leader was Voices of the Heart in 1988, which was produced by and featured Corea. Marienthal's next two offerings, 1989's Round Trip and 1990's Crossroads, were co-produced by himself and fellow Elektric Band member John Patitucci. This was a busy period for Marienthal: he became a regular GRP studio musician, remained in Corea's Elektric Band, and toured with the GRP All-Star Big Band, Lee Ritenour's and David Benoit's bands, and his own group. He enlisted the help of Jeff Lorber and Russell Ferrante for 1991's Oasis. The album was his most successful up to that point; it placed in the Top Five of the contemporary jazz charts, and two of its tracks placed in the Top Ten of the national contemporary jazz radio charts. Lorber produced two more GRP dates for Marienthal, 1993's One Touch and 1994's Street Dance. In 1995, Marienthal was awarded the Berklee Distinguished Alumnus Award for outstanding achievements in contemporary music.
Marienthal left GRP for Ritenour's new Verve-distributed imprint ie: Music. The guitarist produced Easy Street for release in 1997; its title track was a hit at contemporary jazz radio. His next offering as a leader for the label was 1998's Walk Tall, a heartfelt tribute to Cannonball Adderley. Produced by Harvey Mason, the single "Here in My Heart" stayed at number one on the national Contemporary Jazz charts for three weeks, and a cover of Adderley's classic "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" reached number five.
Marienthal spent the next five years as a studio and touring musician with various acts, including being the lead alto player in composer Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. He also served as the musical director of an annual fundraising concert for High Hopes, the California non-profit organization benefitting those who have suffered traumatic head injuries.
In 2002, Marienthal signed with Rippington member Russ Freeman's Peak label. There he recorded four albums: 2003's Sweet Talk, 2005's Got You Covered (leading an all-star band through a collection of cover tunes), 2007's Just Around the Corner, and 2011's Turn Up the Heat; the latter featured Robben Ford and Lorber. In 2012, Marienthal's It's Love was released on eOne Entertainment the very same day as Lorber's revamped Jeff Lorber Fusion's Galaxy was released; the saxophonist became a member of that band and continued to work with Lorber. In 2015, Marienthal teamed with the Yellowjackets' Chuck Loeb for the album Bridges and a tour. The album peaked at 15 on the jazz albums chart and at number six on the contemporary jazz list. ~ Thom Jurek
BORNDecember 13, 1957