Among the legions of saxophonists is only one who rules the genre. Gerald Albright is the living epitome of passion, competence and mastery. He is a legend. This year he looks back on 30 years of artistic activity. How could you celebrate this better than with an album?
The aptly titled album 30 is a retrospective revisiting twelve albums with ten songs newly recorded. Gerald performs on this album alto, tenor, baritone saxophones, C flutes, bass and alto flutes, bass guitar and drum programming. He is joined by James Roberson (keyboards, drums, drum programming), Cory Baker (keyboard bass), Rick Watford (guitars), Sethe Tucker, Selina Albright (vocals), Chris "Big Dog" Davis (keyboards, keyboard bass), Judge "JJ" Williams, Chris Coleman (drums).
The journey starts with Sooki Sooki from Gerald's 7th Atlantic release Live To Love (1997), re-released on Concord Records in 2009, also to find on the compilations Funky Jazz Party and The Very Best of Gerald Albright. The original is a groovy smooth jazz ballade, while the new version has an edgier funky attitude with a more pronounced horn arrangement and a modern keyboard accompaniment.
Just Between Us is a very significant tune for saxophonist Albright. It was the title song of his debut album, released on Atlantic Records in 1987. Although he had already developed his own sax style, the music is influenced by the popular instruments of that time such as synth guitar, synth sounds and drum computers in addition to drums. The new version offers a fresh Big Band like horn arrangement, pointed sophisticated saxophone play with a swinging accent, flutes, a hearty bass and more to enjoy.
Bermuda Nights is the title song of his sophomore album on Atlantic/WEA (1988). His performance on the original was very engaged and greatly spiced up by label mate Chuckii Booker, who just started his phenomenal career at that time. Albright takes the opportunity offered him by today's sound technology and designs the title to a polyphonic Brass experience.
Pushing The Envelope was Albright's first album on Heads Up International (2010). The Road To Peace (A Prayer For Haiti) showcases Gerald's great empathy and with George Duke on piano he had an equally famous fellow musician. Gerald does not try to improve this song, but submits an alternative reinterpretation. Incidentally, the piano part is performed by Chris "Big Dog" Davis.
Chips N' Salsa originally appeared on Giving Myself To You (1995), Gerald's sixth Atlantic/WEA album. The piece is a perfect example of passionate virtuosity and impresses with its fluid playing style. New Beginnings was Gerald's first album on Peak Records in 2006. The newly recorded version has a more horn emphasized arrangement with a significant clearer sound. Come Back To Me is from Albright's debut album polished up with an excellent chorus featuring Abright's daughter Selina recorded in state-of-the-art studio technology.
4 On the Floor from the album Kickin' Up (2004) is to find on this albums in two variations, the second one features guitarist Rick Watford who is able to put the groove into some catchy guitar chords. Boss of Nova appeared for the first time on the album Live At Birdland West (1991), a by critics well received mostly straight-ahead jazz album. Here, too, Gerald's golden hand shows in the selection and implementation of this song.
This album gives both the connoisseurs and the newcomers of Albright's music a competent overview of his earlier period of creation. I strictly recommend the audience to listen to this music on a High Fidelity sound system.