Contemporary sax whiz and Chick Corea Elektric Band veteran Eric Marienthal has been appearing with impressive frequency on other people's sessions, while occasionally releasing his own CDs. Until now, his more memorable performances have been those he's rendered in service to others. He makes good progress in remedying that situation with his latest,Walk Tall, a tribute to Cannonball Adderley.
This program has one foot firmly planted on traditional soil (mostly during the tunes from Adderley's repertoire and a few standards) and the other foot on contemporary turf. Despite the fact that varying amounts of keyboard, bass, and drum programming are added even to the Adderley tunes, it's a pleasing mixture of old and new.
The disk opens with a live recording of Cannonball introducing Joe Zawinul's "Mercy Mercy Mercy," with the instrumental track then fading out and the new recording fading in, in a not-too-awkward manner. Marienthal expressively caresses the lead lines while the programming churns in the background. "Work Song" and "Walk Tall" follow, then there's a beautiful ballad rendition of "Skylark." Other highlights include a medium-tempo spirited romp celebrating "The Way You Look Tonight" and the foot-tapping, bass-walking easy swing of "Unit 7."
All in all, this is a pretty tasty deal. It's similar in aspirations to theTwist of JobimCD which inaugurated the i.e. music label, that is, placing an artist's work from a previous era in a more modern setting. Some of the contempo luminaries who contribute arrangements, performances, and production to the affair include Harvey Mason, Lee Ritenour, Rob Mullins, Russell Ferrante, Jeff Lorber, and John Beasley.
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy Work Song Walk Tall Skylark Imagine That The Way You Look Tonight Here in My Heart Sunstone If You Need Me To Country Preacher Unit 7 Groove Runner
Eric Marienthal - alto or soprano saxophone Lee Ritenour, Alan Hinds, Michael Thompson, Jeff Lorber - guitar Lee Ritenour, Rob Mullins, Harvey Mason Jr., Jeff Lorber - drum, bass, and keyboard programming John Beasley, Russell Ferrante, Ronnie Foster - piano, keyboards Melvin Davis, Reggie Hamilton, Chuck Domanico, Stanley Clarke, Vail Johnson - bass Harvey Mason - drums Chris Botti, Chuck Findley - trumpet Ralph Morrison III - violin Luis Conte - percussion Kevyn Lettau, Philip Ingram, Heather Mason, Michael Mishaw, Stevie Russell - vocals