This high-energy young man is just as the CD title states: Just getting started. Truly coming into his own with consistently superior sax work and great compositions, Eric Darius is a real marvel at such a young age (22-23, I believe). His crystal-clear sax work comes through in crisp, fluid, and defined runs. I bought his first CD, "Night on the Town," when he was just a blip on the musical radar screen, having heard a cut on one of the cable TV radio stations and deciding to research this newfound wonder.
Adding to that, I witnessed his performance during last year’s All-Star Smooth Jazz Cruise, sponsored by trumpeter Rick Braun. Someone should bottle and market this guy’s energy (I’ll invest a few bucks!).
This CD kicks off with an abundance of chutzspa on track 1, "Steppin’ Up," and keeps kickin’ throughout with contributions from such luminaries as the stellar and ever-intense Brian Culbertson, genius producer/guitarist Paul Brown, master keyboardist and composer Jeff Lorber, and the illustrious Paul Jackson, Jr. Each tune keeps you locked in that feels-so-good smooth jazz mode. Some allow you to just chill out, or, as he says on "It’s Alright With Me" (track 9), "Just sit back and let’s be free." Some cuts just dare you to sit back, like (in addition to the opening track) track 4, "Groove On" and track 7, "Got it Goin’ On." The entire CD is hot, and choosing favorites might be a chore for you but a pleasant one. Not only does the talent come younger and younger these days, it’s such a pleasure to see these young artists expressing themselves via this genre. Smooth jazz is very fortunate to have contributions from the likes of Eric Darius. This can only add to the brilliance and appeal of this dynamic music.