PH: Hi, and welcome to Augsburg. My name is Peter Höld and I'm from the german webradio station GrooveFM (http://www.groovefm.de). So, thank you for your time. OK, let's start with the interview. I think it's not your first visit to Germany?
GA: No, I've been here for several times actually. I enjoy coming to Germany. The people really appreciate the jazz. It's nice to come. So far away from home and have people appreciate your music that you've been doing for so many years. A great compliment.
PH: I don't know if you are aware of it hey, we are friends on Facebook. (laughs)
GA: Oh, beautiful. I'm big on Facebook. I love it.
PH: Yes, me too. I thinks it's very important, because you are able to have contact with people all around the world.
GA: Yes, It's very important. Especially with the state of the music industry right now. Where jazz has changed so much in terms of how people acquire their music and how we get the word out these days versus back in the days when we had the record companies doing all the work. Now we as artist do a lot of the work now to get the word out. Itīs a new day in time.
PH: And, it's not myspace anymore, it's more Facebook, I think.
GA: Yes, Facebook and Twitter. I'm using a lot of the social sites these days. Just to keep a presence in the market place and be able to talk to my fans and a lot of my music students as well. A lot of people have questions about the saxophone and various aspects of my career and stuff. So, it's nice to be able to reach out to them.
PH: Your last album is called "Pushing the envelope". Why do you have chosen this title.
GA: I wanted to make a statement that thereīs really no limits in the music. A lot of times with the smooth jazz format, the music generally speaking feels a little limited. You can't be too funky, you can't be too aggressive with the horn that you play, or vocally. It has to have more work harmless to it. I come from the school of contemporary jazz, where the music was more free and we didn't have to worry about bringing a harness on what was coming out of the soul and the heart and the music. So this project is basically about having no limits, having total freedom with the music. It's a global presentation. We have a latin music, we have south african music, we have love songs, we have funk, we have a little bit of everything on this. We didn't limited ourselfs in terms of the different genres of music nor the approach to the production and execution of the music. That was the reason for the title.
PH: You worked together with so many great musicians. Who is your favorite and who are you influenced from?
GA: Oh, I have a lot of favorites. Thatīs like a ten minute answer, I think. (laughs) But, when I think about it when I first started out the first saxophone player that really touched me musically was Maceo Parker from the James Brown Band. My older brother had all of James Browns records in the house. So, thatīs what I grew up with. I was listening to a lot of Maceo, a lot of Fred Wesley on trombone, who is part of the "Pushing the Envelope" project as well. He played on one song called "What would James do?", which is a tribute to James Brown. And then later on on high school, early college, I was introduced to Julian Edwin "Cannonball" Adderley. So, if I have to describe my sound as kind of a fusion between Maceo and Cannonball, with other influences like Grover Washington Jr., Ronnie Laws, Stanley Turrentine. So, when you talk about favorite musicians there is a long list (laughs), because I've been around a long time. I've been very blessed to play with so many musicians that are my favorites. You know, Michael Brecker, I love him, Randy Brecker, all those guys, you know, itīs just been a fun ride for me.
PH: What is the most interesting part of your live as a musician?
GA: I think the most interesting time was growing up in Los Angeles, where I'm originally from, and just becoming mature as musician there. Being able to witness all the experiences of being in the recording studio with so many different musicians and so many different great producers like Quincy Jones and George Duke and a host of others. It was a real breeding ground for great musicians there and I got a chance to be one on one with a lot of these guys, I think thatīs the most interesting part. ***Just, that was kind of a spring board for what I am doing now, as a recording artist just having those experiences of playing alongside those great musicians and learning from them. And most of them where very gracious about giving me information about their respect of instrument or general knowledge in how to optimize your position in the music industry. So the early experience is very, very good for me. It made me the man that I am today.
PH: I have the chance to meet a lot of young musicians. Do you have any tips for a young musician who wants to start are career in the music business?
GA: You have to deal with sound first. You really have to pay attention to the sound of your instrument. If you don't have a good sound then the note don't mean that much. It's really about getting the sound first and then you can have a conversation with the horn. But the guys who I listen to mainly as I mentioned earlier, Maceo Parker and Cannonball Adderley, I got into the sound of their horn first and then I got into their fluid playing and how they approached a jazz and chord changes and things like that. So, I tell my music students all the time: "Let's work on the sound, first". I equate that to somebody who's a great speaker like a Martin Luther King. Of course he's gonna say some profound things, but it was the sound of his voice that really brought people together. I think the next step is trying to establish a unique sound, an actual brand that you can call your own. Cannonball Adderley, Maceo Parker all those guy had their own sound. You can hear them play two notes and you know, thats Maceo, thats Cannonball. So have an identifiable sound and then at that point it's really about just becoming seasoned in the music, experienced. Ask many things as you can, be in a recording studio, in live setting. Play in as many jam sessions as you can, to really develop your keen sense of spontaneity, with other musicians. Thatīs the best advice I can give, but one of the other addendums thatīs really important is, really learn the business of music. Really find out how you can optimize your position in the music business. It's a very hard business. It's a very highly competitive business. In my case, there is a lot of saxophone players in the industry and for me I have to keep my sound fresh and the ideas that I have fresh, so that people still take notice of what I'm doing. I don't want to be on the background. I always want to be in the foreground. So, you have to just keep pushing the envelope to get to the foreground.
PH: Thank you very much.
GA: You're welcome Peter.
PH: Ok, one question my wife is interested in. You are on tour from one jazz festival to another. At least, every weekend and all over the world. How are you able to arrange that with being a family man?
GA: Well, sometimes I have my family travel with me. My daughter (Selina Albright), who is a wonderful singer, sometimes travels with me and I showcase her on some of my tunes. Now that the kids are grown it allows for more freedom for my wife to travel with me. Usually she travels with me if I'm going to a place where Iīm gonna stay for two or three days. She doesn't like the one nighters. You know, where you have to pack cloth, unpack the cloth, get to a new hotel, new city. She doesn't like that. But, if I'm going, let's say to the caribbean, or some place where we gonna be there multiple days, than she'll go on those trips. And, because of technology of course, with Skype and FaceTime, I can always look at my family on the phone or on my computer screen and identify whether make sure everybody is ok. But I have always tried to, as a dad and a husband, tried to balance the time between family and music. And sometimes itīs hard to do, because, you know, with those times you go out, like when I was with Phil Collins, we where go out for a couple of month in a time. Touring all over the world. But, even with that you still keep the presence in the family, you have to call them every day. In the old days I used to send faxes (laughs), you know. But now it's just a matter of Twitter, Facebook, FaceTime, and that makes it a little easier. It's very important.
PH: So, whatīs next for you? What are your future plans?
GA: Well, I'm gonna be doing some more touring based on my current project "Pushing the envelope". It was nominated for a Grammy, this passed year. It's still selling and people are still want it to buy, so we're still pushing it. After this touring season which we are probably in and october, november I'm gonna start a new project which will bring me into the following year when we tour on that. Also I'm the manager of my daughter and producer of her next project, we gonna do a baby-project on her, a solo vocal project, which will be probably neo-soul/contemporary jazz. I'm exited about that getting in the studio with her. We work very well together in the studio.
PH: Thatīs very interesting and I'm looking forward to it. Thank you very much for the Interview and your time.
GA: It was my pleasure, thank you.