Down Beat - 1/913 Stars
- "..Is as comfortable on the sequenced hip hop grooves as the ballads here."
Personnel: Eric Marienthal (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Perri (vocals); Jeff Lorber (guitar, synthesizer, drum programming); Oliver Leiber, Robben Ford (guitar); Russell Ferrante (piano, keyboards); John Patitucci (electric bass); Robinson (drums); Alex Acu¤a (percussion); Ma Chun (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Eric Marienthal; Jeff Lorber; Alan Meyerson; Russell Ferrante; Bernie Kirsh.
Recording information: JHL Studio, Pacific Palisides, CA; Mad Hatter Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
Unknown Contributor Role: Robinson.
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." To gain insight into all of his favorite musical arenas, he splits the production tasks between two of his contemporary musical idols, Jeff Lorber and Russell Ferrante of the Yellowjackets. Ferrante gives Oasis a whimsical, folksy quality (as in the exploratory soprano piece "Barcelona") while Lorber infuses a quiet storm like rhythmic intensity into his half of the proceedings. The real joys of the album are the handslappin' gospel pieces "Just to See You Again" and "Another Shore," which feature spirited vocals by Perri. The former also boasts a simmering guitar solo by bluesmeister Robben Ford. Keeping the gamut of emotions under one vision is Marienthal, who continues to be an astounding player and who displays his greatest growht as a composer, co-writing seven of the tunes here. 1991's best genre release. ~ Jonathan Widran