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Randy Brecker and Eric Marienthal: Double Dealin'

Jim Worsley By

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Randy Brecker and Eric Marienthal: Double Dealin'
It can be difficult for two giants to share space without colliding into each other. It alternatively can be a bold mix of dynamic forces. Double Dealin' (Shanachie, 2020) robustly falls into the second category. It took many years for Randy Brecker and Eric Marienthal to finally find the right project to come together on. The long wait is rewarded with energetic performances in this funk and groove extravaganza.

The title track kicks the record off with more than a splash of what was to follow. Brecker's signature sound pops in new digs and is met by the gliding sophistication of Marienthal's melodic tapestry. Marienthal's own engaging solo is capped by the horn section in a tune that establishes what is to be the thread of the record. "Double Dealin'" is one of five Marienthal and George Whitty co-writes on the album.

Whitty, who produced the record, contributed the tune "3 Deuces" to the record. The horn section floats through this Whitty arrangement that features a silky solo from Marienthal. Whitty is to be noted as producing, arranging, composing and playing throughout the record. His skillset left a major imprint on the core foundation of this record.

"Fast Lane" is funk in fifth gear. Dave Weckl and John Patitucci join in and somehow avoid a speeding ticket driving this number hard and creating a furious rhythm section pace for Brecker and Marienthal to ride. Their connectivity is never more apparent, as Brecker plays with gusto and Marienthal reaches in for a growl. It's a high wire act from start to finish.

Sequencing to a slow down, the beautifully sentimental "Mind the Fire" is offered as a tribute to late guitarist Chuck Loeb. A long-time friend and band mate of both Brecker and Marienthal, Loeb had a special character to his playing that was honored in this Whitty/Marienthal composition. Played with heart and elegance, Brecker's understated grace brings a soft emotional current to this warm remembrance.

The ensemble skyrocketed back to the high-end funk and groove display with Brecker's saucy "Sambop." Brecker breathes life into a nourishing solo, flourishing into a tantalizing, sensational riff that bridges to Marienthal. Grateful for the set-up, Marienthal ignites into a powder keg of his own in this funky barn burner. Patitucci and Weckl's resilient and energetic push are key to this tune's flavor and rhythmic cadence.

Brecker's second compositional entry to Double Dealin' is "You Ga (To Give It)." They give us an exhilarating funk rush that is laced with spirited note selections by Brecker and Marienthal. It's a tune that swings hard with improvisational bliss.

The sophisticated "True North" manages to take you to a different place while staying in the bounds, or the aforementioned thread, of the record. The Whitty/Marienthal co-write is to be noted for its synergy and delightfully intelligent play from the horn section as a unit. Some big playing with some big chops by both Brecker and Marienthal as they gravitated due north with significant interplay. It would be remiss not to mention Patitucci's acoustic bass treatment on this number.

Whitty's "The Hipster" is just a whole lot of fun. All aboard the funk train. The groovin' locomotive shimmies down the tracks with abandon and no stops along the way. Brecker's trip to the hardware store pays off, as he gets down and blows freely with a plunger mute. Some really great vibes on this tune make for some chill beats and cool moments. Whitty sneaking in to stretch out on a solo is a well-placed secret weapon. Well conducted, everyone is indeed on board and riding in first class.

Brecker's wife, talented saxophonist Ada Rovatti, brought a song to the mix entitled "Jetlagged." Slick licks from Brecker and Marienthal are employed here in a song that has more umph than the sleepy title might imply. Creatively written and arranged, it is notable that Rovatti wrote engaging parts for each member of the ensemble. The riffs spew out off of tight edges in perhaps the most wonderfully complex piece on the record.

Double Dealin' finishes in the high style that was ridden and presented from top to bottom. Not surprisingly, "Habanero" is hot and spicy. The fifth Whitty/Marienthal offering is certainly a leave 'em wanting more conclusion. Brecker and Marienthal seize the moment and leave nothing on the table. Brecker did what Brecker does. A note selection gem performed with verve. Marienthal responds in a brisk and flavorful manner with an effervescent solo of his own.

The word double is represented here in the scope of appreciation or listening methodology. There is plenty of meat on the bone for the jazz aficionado that wants to dig deep. Also, there is the opportunity to just take it easy, ride the grooves, and have some fun/funk. In a year dampened by pandemic woes, Brecker and Marienthal opt to raise spirits in presenting this high-end celebration of music and life.

Track Listing

Double Dealin'; 3 Deuces; Fast Lane; Mind the Fire; Sambop; You Ga (Ta Give It); True North; The Hipster; Jetlagged; Habanero.

Personnel

Randy Brecker: trumpet; Eric Marienthal: saxophone; George Whitty: keyboards; Dave Weckl: drums; John Patitucci: bass.

Album information

Title: Double Dealin' | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Shanachie Records

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