Eric was just 10 years old he used to dream of becoming a professional
musician, to make his own records and tour around the world.
When he first started playing his saxophone in 5th grade he really
had no idea what all that even meant. Well, after having performed
in over 60 different countries, recording 10 solo CD's and playing
on hundreds of other records, films, television shows and commercial
jingles, Eric has definitely exceeded those musical goals he
set for himself way back then.
After graduating high school in
1976, Eric went on to study at the Berklee College of Music in
Boston, MA. There he studied with the legendary saxophone teacher,
Joe Viola. It was Joe that taught Eric how to really practice.
Joe introduced Eric to the books of Marcel Mule, Pierre Londeaux,
Sigmund Rasher and many others. Under Joe's wing, Eric practiced
at least 4 hours every night. There were also jam sessions going
on all the time where the students could get together and play
for hours. Eric ended up returning to Orange County, CA after
being at Berklee for 2 years to try and pursue his career. When
he left Berklee, he had achieved the highest proficiency rating
given by the school. In 1995, Eric was awarded the Berklee Distinguished
Alumnus Award for outstanding achievements in contemporary music.
moving to Los Angeles in 1980, Eric auditioned for famed New
Orleans trumpeter Al Hurt. He got the gig, moved to New Orleans
and played with Al and his band for about a year. "We would
play at Al's club in the French Quarter during the week and almost
every weekend we'd travel to a different city to play. It was
my first time seeing most of the country." When the band
ended Eric returned to L.A. and began the slow climb into the
world of professional music. He played in every situation he
could. A spot opened up in the Disneyland Band and it was there
that Eric met many of the studio musicians that he still works
While the Disney Band was a full time job, Eric would
still play jobs at night in a lot of the clubs around town. It
was during one of these club gigs with bandleader John Novello
that Eric was about to get his first big break. While playing
at a club in North Hollywood, Eric looked up from the stage to
see jazz legend Chick Corea walk through the door. Chick had
been one of Eric's very favorite all-time musicians. "When
I looked up and saw Chick walk in I thought I must be hallucinating!" Chick
was a friend of John's so Eric figured he was there to see John's
band. But unbeknownst to Eric, Chick was looking to add a sax
player to his famed Elektric Band with bassist, John Patitucci,
drummer Dave Weckl, and guitarist Frank Gambale. Not only did
Chick stay for the whole night but he sat in during the 2nd set. "We
played one of Chick's standards, "500 Miles High".
Thank God I knew that tune!" Eric said that his wife Lee
Ann happened to be there that night and could see the excitement
in his eyes. “It was an incredible thrill to be on stage
playing with one of my all time musical heroes." Afterwards
they talked and Chick told Eric how much he liked his playing.
real bombshell, however, didn't hit until the next day. While
Eric was sitting in the Disneyland Band break room the phone
rang. "The bass player answered it and said it was for me.
He had an odd look on his face and when I asked who it was he
said it was Chick Corea's manager. I totally froze!" Eric
finally made it to the phone and the manager told him that Chick
wanted him to join the Elektric Band.
Needless to say, Eric didn't
stay in the Disney Band long after that. The Elektric band went
on to record 6 albums, won 2 Grammys and traveled to every corner
of the globe. After the Elektric Band's "Light Years" CD
was released, Eric was offered his first solo record contract
with GRP records. "It
was a dream come true for me. Playing with Chick and getting
signed to my own deal, what more could I ask for." Chick
produced Eric's first record, "Voices of The Heart" and
it was recorded live at Mad Hatter Studios in L.A. His next 2
CD's, "Round Trip" and "Crossroads" were
produced by Eric and his long time friend and bass playing giant,
John Patitucci. Of the two, Crossroads was a recording that reflected
where Eric's musical head was at. "John and I wanted to
make a record that people would talk about years later. We didn't
think about anything except the music. I still have people come
up and tell me that Crossroads is their favorite record of mine...
mostly musicians!" It was during that time that Eric became
one of the most recorded sax players in contemporary jazz. He
played on over 50 GRP records alone including records by Lee
Ritenour, Dave Grusin, David Benoit, Don Grusin, Dave Weckl,
John Patitucci, GRP All-Star Big Band and The Rippingtons. Eric
juggled being a member of Lee Ritenour's band, David Benoit's
band, Chick's Elektric band and his own band.
In 1991, Eric decided
to call upon two musicians whom he had always wanted to work
with, Jeff Lorber and Russell Ferrante of the Yellowjackets,
to write with and produce his "Oasis" CD. "At
the time I didn't personally even know Jeff or Russell and I
was hoping that, when I called them, they wouldn't say, 'Eric
who?'" It ended up being a great collaboration and one of
Eric's most successful records. It made it into the top 5 on
the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts and 2 of the tunes made
it into the top 10 of the National Contemporary Jazz Radio Charts.
Eric went on to record two more records for GRP; "One Touch" and "Street
Dance", both produced by Jeff Lorber.
It was around this
time that Eric became interested in writing his first instructional
book, "Comprehensive Jazz Studies & Exercises" published
by Warner Bros. Publications which is now Alfred Publishing/Belwin
Jazz. Eric spent 3 years writing this 200 page book and was inspired
by Chick Corea and the members of the Elektric band. "Each
member of that band was a prolific writer. Not only music but
instructional materials as well. I always wanted to own a book
that combined a ton of things to practice and woodshed with some
melodic and harmonic things that would really help my improvising." Alfred
publishing went on to publish 2 more books written by Eric. "The
Ultimate Jazz Play Along" is a "music minus 1" book
for all instruments with 12 original tunes to work on and improve
your improvising. It also comes with an audio CD to play along
with. The 3rd is called "The Music of Eric Marienthal".
It's a collection of Eric's transcribed solos from various records
over the last 20 years. This book comes with a "lesson on
CD" which takes the listener through the fundamentals of
playing, practicing, improvising and much more. Eric has also
filmed 3 instructional videos, also published by Alfred Publishing; "Play
Sax From Day One", "Modern Sax" and "Tricks
Of The Trade".
In 1997, Eric was signed by legendary jazz
guitarist Lee Ritenour to record for his new label, i.e. Music.
Lee produced Eric's "Easy Street" CD and the title
track, which features Rick Braun on trumpet, made it to #2 on
the National Contemporary Jazz Radio Charts. That same year Eric
was voted to be among the top 3 alto sax players in the Jazziz
Magazine Reader's Poll along with Phil Woods and David Sanborn.
Eric's 2nd record for i.e. Music, "Walk Tall", was
a tribute to one of his musical idols, Cannonball Adderley. "Cannonball
has always been a huge inspiration to me and I was so thankful
that Lee was into letting me make that record". Produced
by Harvey Mason, the single, "Here In My Heart", stayed
at #1 on the National Contemporary Jazz Charts for 3 weeks and
the Cannonball classic, "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" made
it to #5.
Currently, Eric is signed to the Peak Records label,
owned by Rippingtons founder Russ Freeman. "When Russ asked
me to join the Rippingtons, he also offered me a deal with his
label and I jumped at it. Playing with the Ripp's has been incredibly
fun for me and the band is awesome!” Eric's first 2 recordings
on Peak were "Turn Up The Heat" and "Sweet Talk".
The later of which featured the title track that was co-written
by Eric's 14 year old son, Robert. "Rob plays guitar and
wrote this song which was originally more of a folk song. After
I put my two cents in it turned into more of a smooth jazz tune
and I don't think Rob will ever forgive me!"
CD is his 3rd for Peak entitled "Got You Covered".
It's an amazing collection of some of Eric's favorite tunes and
was recorded live in the studio. "Of all 10 of my records,
this is my favorite. It features Russell Ferrante, Peter Erskine,
Russ Freeman, Chick Corea, Dave Carpenter and Luis Conte. Most
of the record was recorded live all together and all at the same
time. It was so refreshing to record this way and the music sounds
just like we played it." The record has a very heartfelt,
mostly acoustic sound and it's one that Eric is obviously very
For the past 7 years Eric has been the musical director
of an annual fundraising concert for High Hopes. High Hopes is
a non-profit organization in Orange County, California that works
with people who have suffered traumatic head injuries. With the
help of guest artists such as Lou Rawls, Patti Austin, David
Benoit, Brian Culbertson, Rick Braun, Vesta Williams, Jeff Lorber,
David Pack, Lee Ritenour and many more, these concerts to date
have raise well over a half million dollars for this charity.
all the different bands that Eric has been a part of, one of
his favorites is the Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band. Gordon is
a very prominent, Grammy winning composer in Los Angeles and
the Big Phat Band is among the most popular Big Bands in the
world today. Eric is the band's lead alto sax player and obviously
loves being there. "This is about the only band I've ever
been in that has as much fun traveling together as we do playing
together! The audiences always go completely crazy during our
shows and they know most of the music we play." The band
is made up of some of L.A.'s top studio musicians. The Phat band's
3rd record, "The Phat Pack" was recently released in
June, 2006. According to Eric, it's the best record Gordon's
These days Eric is touring and recording continuously.
Besides playing with his own band and the others that he is a
part of, Eric gives Master Classes and performs with High School
and College bands around the country. "I love being able
to work with students and help them improve. There's no better
feeling than to help a player achieve their goal.”
Management: Andi Howard
Andi or Valerie can be reached at 310-385-4135 or e-mail at AHowardEnt@aol.com.