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Eric Marienthal: Tricks of the Trade

Although alto saxophonist Eric Marienthal tended to get pigeon-holed as just another hot post-David Sanborn clone when he first hit the big time with Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, Marienthal has gone on to demonstrate an impressive stylistic breadth ranging from bebop to fusion and funk. I’ve even grown very fond of his hard-edge yet vibrantly warm sound. And in guest spots like his recent appearance on the CD featuring Kansas City-based Boulevard Big Band, Marienthal proves that he can also swing like mad.

Here, in a highly interactive video that will make you want to grab a horn and play along, Marienthal proves an articulate and congenial instructor. Indeed, after demonstrating his own approach to standard progressions the screen lights up with clearly illustrated changes. Pitched at the intermediate-to-advanced level, Marienthal breaks his lesson up into clearly delineated units devoted to “playing over changes,” “creating rhythm in your playing,” “trick licks,” “high note licks,” “growls and multiphonics” and “communicating with an audience.” It’s illuminating and, indeed, big time fun. And, gosh, I’m now waiting for a call from Chick. Thanks to Eric, I’m ready.

Marienthal’s engaging video is accompanied by a useful booklet containing transcriptions of the altoist’s gritty solos as well as the changes for etudes such as “major chord solo,” “minor chord solo/hip-hop groove,” “F blues,” “ii-v-I” and “rhythm change,” plus handy compendia devoted to “licks” and “high note licks;” the examples are noted in both E-flat and B-flat, which covers all the saxes. This is a keeper that you’ll return to time and again.

Originally Published