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The Very Best of Gerald Albright

Gerald Albright

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Album Review

The liner notes for this can't-miss compilation, of a saxman who was putting the "smooth" into jazz long before radio called it that, promise some serious smackin'. These 11 tunes remind the serious rhythm and jazz fan that Albright's been doing that in powerful, soul-stirring ways since the late '80s. Albright was playing with Anita Baker when he signed to Atlantic and launched his diverse career with Just Between Us in 1987. Sultry tunes like "Bermuda Nights" and "In the Mood" helped define new adult contemporary radio (the maiden name of "smooth jazz") in the early days, but Albright never just wanted to be one thing. Just as his pop-jazz star was in full swing circa 1991, he took an exciting detour and put out the very straight-ahead-oriented disc Live at Birdland West, which only increased his popularity and respect with critics. There are no misses on this greatest-hits package, but the two most exciting cuts come from this date: an intense, highly improvisational "Georgia on My Mind" and jamming "Boss of Nova," which features powerful interaction between Albright's alto and Joe Sample's percussive piano chords (as Harvey Mason keeps perfect bossa time on the skins). The other must-hear collaboration here is "G & Lee," featuring Lee Ritenour. The genre has become more competitive over the years with similar sounding saxmen, but Albright shows he's up to the challenge with the moody funk gem "When Morning Comes," the sole new track on the album. You could look at this as Atlantic just milking a great catalog, but be optimistic and say it's the perfect primer for those who are unfamiliar with one of the best saxmen in the business (and a welcome package for longtime fans too).

Biography

Born: 1957 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Beginning in the late '80s, saxophone master Gerald Albright recorded numerous successful solo albums for Atlantic when he wasn't busy assisting an impressive, and mammoth, roster of popular R&B artists. Born in South Central Los Angeles, the saxophonist idolized James Brown and took much influence from Maceo Parker and Cannonball Adderley. He first made a name for himself within the music industry during the '80s, when he became a highly requested session musician. His revered reputation resulted...
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The Very Best of Gerald Albright, Gerald Albright
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