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Chuck Loeb & Eric Marienthal at Scullers

Dave Dorkin By

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Chuck Loeb & Eric Marienthal
Scullers
Boston, MA
June 17, 2016

Guitarist Chuck Loeb and saxophonist Eric Marienthal came into Boston's noted home for jazz, Scullers, co-leading an ensemble which has been quietly making a name for itself at the intersection of fusion, soul-bop and contemporary jazz. Chuck Loeb may be best known for a string of contemporary jazz albums in recent years including with Fourplay, but Loeb was also the guitarist in more burning contexts with Steps Ahead and Stan Getz among others.

Similarly, Eric Marienthal has done many contemporary jazz albums which are to be distinguished from much of the work he is arguably best known for with Chick Corea where he has improvised on the front lines of the Elektric Band in many very challenging musical situations. This group strikes a good balance between the tight arrangements of a band like Fourplay and the more improvisational settings Loeb has explored with Steps or Marienthal with Corea.

Loeb, in addition to being a very able soloist, is very solid at comping in an orchestral manner and providing a counterpoint to Marienthal's soloing. Both men reprise elements of the jazz/soul tradition which is not much seen on bandstands these days and is sorely missed; these are players who know how to work a room and build crowds into a frenzy.

Loeb is able to effectively render elements of a tradition which includes such players as Pat Martino and Wes Montgomery, though Loeb plays a solid body Sadowsky guitar which allows him to veer into more contemporary sounds as well. Marienthal has always been able to evoke rhythm and blues even on complex changes and it serves him well in this context.

The group is made more vital with the addition of Pat Bianchi on organ, noted for his long association with Pat Martino, and who is currently one of the finest organists in the world. A stand out was a particularly spirited reading of Joe Henderson's standard, "Recorda Me," where Marienthal showed plenty of his straight ahead chops and Loeb was impressively able to catch many of Marienthal's extensions in his chord voicings on the fly, highlighting the group's chemistry.

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