Eric Marienthal has always had limitless potential. Primarily known as an altoist but also an excellent player on tenor and soprano, Marienthal came to fame with Chick Corea's Elektric Band and tends to sound at his best when teamed with players of that caliber. Many of his own projects suffer from overproduction, a lack of spontaneity and commercial material, but that is not true of Crossroads. In groups ranging from quartets to sextets, Marienthal is challenged by the material (all group originals), matching wits with the likes of keyboardist Russell Ferrante (from the Yellowjackets), bassist John Patitucci and, on three selections, Chick Corea. Crossroads contains some of Eric Marienthal's finest playing outside of the context of the Elektric Band.
As he was developing his formidable career in the early era of smooth jazz, the saxman proved an invaluable sideman of Chick Corea's Elektric Band, David Benoit's touring ensemble and a studio player for projects by such artists as Keiko Matsui and Mike Garson. Yet as a solo artist, he spent his first three albums searching for an identity that ranged from pop (Round Trip) to electronic mainstream jazz (Crossroads). With Oasis, his search came to a diverse, exciting, and highly enjoyable end. Marienthal applies his stellar blowing techniquest to styles ranging from folk to gospel, but the overall attitude he conveys is sweet and soulful R&B, as in the hoppin' grooves of the funky opening tracks "Hustlin'" and "Seafood to Go."
This album was released on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the North Sea Jazz Festival. It contains live recordings of John Patitucci, Spyro Gyra, Russ Freeman & The Rippingtons, B.B. King, Chick Corea, Robben Ford and Gary Burton. All songs were recorded live during various editions of this festival.
Yutaka Yokokura is a Japanese pianist, keyboardist, kotoist, arranger and composer. He recorded three albums with GRP Records: Yutaka (1988), Brazasia (1990), and Another Sun (1993). He previously recorded an album, Love Light, in 1978 by Toshiba-EMI Music Japan. The album received an American release in 1981 on Alfa Records, with the title single, featuring a lead vocal by Patti Austin, reaching #81 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Pianist Sergio Salvatore was only 13 at the time of this recording, his second release. But despite his extreme youth, one forgets Salvatore's age by the third song. He certainly gets the star treatment on the date, playing quartets with Gary Burton, interacting with the Brecker Brothers, and even duetting with Chick Corea on "Sea Journey." But Salvatore somehow manages to keep up with his illustrious sidemen, and the fairly complex music (which includes three of his impressive originals) rewards repeated listenings.
In the summer of 1991 Gerry Mulligan decided to revisit Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool recordings. He discussed it with Miles Davis himself who said he might be interested in participating but sadly Davis died a few months later. With Wallace Roney (the perfect sound-alike) in the trumpeter's place, baritonist Mulligan got the band's original pianist and tuba player (John Lewis and Bill Barber), used his own bassist (Dean Johnson) and drummer (Ron Vincent), and found able substitutes in altoist Phil Woods (unfortunately Lee Konitz was unavailable to play his old parts), trombonist Dave Bargeron and John Clark on French horn.
Eddie Daniels is such a monster on the clarinet that all of his GRP recordings are worth acquiring. This one, however, due to the somewhat commercial nature of some of the tunes (and the lightly funky rhythm sections), is of lesser interest compared to the classics such as Breakthrough. Daniels sounds fine but he is far better than much of the material (generally written by either the clarinetist, Rob Mounsey or Dave Grusin).
Gary Burton's peculiar connection and affinity for great guitarists is a proven historical fact, as he has been responsible for bringing such fantastic musicians to the world stage as Larry Coryell and Pat Metheny. On Six Pack, he joins with six different six-stringers for some decidedly varied modern jazz. Kurt Rosenwinkel makes like Metheny on the first track, the up-tempo Mitch Forman composition "Anthem." Any predictability to the song disappears in the presence of the rhythm section of Jack DeJohnette, Steve Swallow, and Mulgrew Miller. One doesn't generally think of the vibes as a blues instrument, and to be fair, it's really not, but Burton gives it the old college try on the title track, where his vibes intersect surprisingly well with Bob Berg's tenor sax and B.B. King's guitar.