Gerald Albright

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                 GERALD ALBRIGHT
                     

The consistency & glow of Urban, Contemporary & Smooth Jazz saxman Gerald Albright effects every stage presence he brings to his listeners from around the world! As always, we are excited to have Gerald join Terrill for an interview on The Urban Music Scene.com!! He speaks to us about his performance to come at the Playboy Jazz Festival (2008), his upcoming new release “Sax For Stax” & more!
  


TERRILL:    The Urban Music Scene.com is elated to have with us the one and only Contemporary Jazz sax man, Gerald Albright. He’s in the house!! What’s up Gerald? 



GERALD:     Hi Terrill, how are you doing? 



TERRILL:    I’m doing good man. I’m doing real good. What’s happening with you and the Playboy Jazz this year? 



GERALD:     Well, I’m real excited about being a part of the Playboy Jazz Festival this year. I’m going to be touring with a bunch of guys I know and love and have known for many, many years – Jeff Lorber, Jeff Golub and Peter White. It’s called the “Guitars and Saxes Tour” and we’re coming to the festival. It’s just one of the greatest festivals to play man. Darlene Chan is a great friend of mine and I’ve known her a for long time and it’s always a pleasure to collaborate with her on such fine festivals. 



TERRILL:    Absolutely!  I’ve gone to the Festival for the last three or four years and you know Gerald? Whenever you perform brother, you put it down!! 



GERALD:     Thank you very much! We have a party out there! We like to get the audience involved and it’s more than just the audience just sitting and listening for an hour or two. We really want them to be excited and involved in what we do. It’s all about that. 



TERRILL:    Cool! What type of music you plan to get into at the Playboy?  



GERALD:     Well, the one thing about this particular year of Guitars and Saxes is that we kind of touch on everything. In our full show, we normally do contemporary jazz, smooth jazz & blues. We have some straight-ahead stuff. It’s just a whole collage of different genres of music and it is because of the artists themselves. They are well versed in all different styles of music. So we like playing it all and then a lot of spontaneity, spontaneous things happen on stage too that are not expected. That all happens right at the moment.  



TERRILL:    Oh absolutely.. 



GERALD:     And just different flavors of things happen. No two shows are alike, because jazz is infinite and improvisation is infinite and so it comes out different every time we approach it. 



TERRILL:    Cool! And for your music. All that flavor you drop on there man is… as it relates to a lot of R&B too.  



GERALD:     I’m one of James Brown’s biggest fans. At an early age, he influenced my music. Listening to guys like Maceo Parker, who played saxophone with him for many, many years and James’ sound just caught my ear at a very early age. So everything I did, at least on the R&B/jazz side of things that I did – they always had hints of James Brown in there. And so I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s a  heavy R&B influence in my productions, my songwriting and in my live presentations as well. 



TERRILL:    That’s sweet. And you came a long way brother. 



GERALD:     Thank you man. 



TERRILL:    You had released some seriously great projects. In fact by popularity, we had a video on the Jazz page of The Urban Music Scene.com recently –  “My My My.” Your cover of Johnny Gill’s classic title cut received playback! It’s just something about the way you touch some of those covers man. Speaking of covers, you got this big Stax tribute project coming up. What’s happening with that?


                             



GERALD:     Yes, June 24th of 2008, we have our release date for a project called, “Sax For Stax.” . We’re celebrating 50 years for Stax being in business. It’s the 50th anniversary and that’s quite an accomplishment. So, we’re going to mirror some of the arrangements of Issac Hayes, The Staple Singers, The Dramatics, Johnny Taylor. Then we have some instrumental originals within those list of songs that kind of round out the project. I have Will Downing as a featured artist on there, along with Ledisi, and Kirk Whalum. My touring band is also my recording band. So we went into the studio and did the whole project live and we have live strings. It’s just a project that I am very, very proud of and it’s my 13th CD to date, so I’m looking forward to June and being able to give my audience…..give a kind of a sneak preview of what we’ve been doing lately musically.  



TERRILL:    Cool! Right on! Basically with the recording artists you’ve mentioned, you have a stellar lineup! You couldn’t ask for anything more other than just hearing that Will Downing is going to pack up and make some special appearances as well. 



GERALD:     Yes. I’m real excited for him, he’s had quite a year-and-a-half. For him to be able to travel and go and speak on what he went through in terms of his muscular disorder that he’s been down with the past year-and-a-half. I mean that’s such an accomplishment. So I believe he’s going to hit about 5 cities where he’s going to not perform, but basically just lecture and have Q&A sessions about what he went through and just talk about where he is in his life right now and his projections for the future. So, I’m excited for him man. I’m just glad he’s doing a lot better. 



TERRILL:    Absolutely, we’re very excited for him! And definitely excited for you and artists like yourself who have been consistent in the game. You’ve been in the game for quite a while and you’re still hanging in there man. In fact, how is the industry treating you? How’s contemporary/smooth jazz doing? 



GERALD:     Well, It pretty much parallels the economy and right now smooth jazz is just doing okay. It’s not doing great. It’s widely known that a lot of the smooth jazz stations are going under. Within the past year-and-a-half, four or five of the major smooth jazz stations went under like Dallas and Houston, Denver and we just lost CD109 in New York. So that narrows the road for our product to get played and consequently it creates the domino theory of , ‘if the listeners aren’t able to listen then they are not able to buy the new product that’s normally on the radio’. So what we’ve been doing lately is have a lot of live performances where our audiences can really see and hear and feel what we’re doing. I’m very positive about the future of contemporary jazz and smooth jazz and traditional jazz as well. I think everything is cyclical and I think that within the next several months, we’re going to have more of a popularity of all those different genres and things will hopefully get back to normal. But the thing that keeps me in the game is the passion for what I do. I love what I do and no matter what the market is bearing, I’m going to blow my horn regardless man. 



TERRILL:    There you go. That’s right! 



GERALD:     Yeah! 



TERRILL:    That’s right and we you know there’s loyal fans out there waiting on you!!


 


GERALD:     Yes! 



TERRILL:    People who do dig the genre, dig the music, they will pay to come see you and  I think that’s probably one of the greatest influences that help to promote the artist(s). 



GERALD:     Exactly. 



TERRILL:    And it resonates. 





                              

GERALD:     I take it humbly. I don’t take it for granted man. For me to, like you mentioned earlier, be in the game – I mean, I’ve been doing it since 1987 as a recording artist and my audience has been right there with me. That’s the greatest compliment. For somebody to stick with you for the number of years and just support you on so many different levels.
 



TERRILL:    Yes. 



GERALD:     I’m elated about that. 



TERRILL:    Man, right on! One of our guest writers, Shelly A. wanted to ask this –  she goes, ‘Ask Gerald if he and Will Downing are going to put out another album together?” 



GERALD:     Well, it could happen. It very well could happen. In fact, it may be more easier these days than before, because now we’re label mates. He’s also on Peak Records. And we find each other these days doing like, features on one another’s projects respectively. We’ve been asked that question a lot over the years and hopefully it’ll come to fruition. I mean, I think it would be a great idea for us to do Volume 2 of what we did back in 1998 with “Pleasures of the Night” and that record is still selling and I’m very happy. 



TERRILL:    Oh absolutely. 



GERALD:     In fact, it turned out to be a kind of category item. I mean, it just keeps selling like a, like a Nat King Cole Christmas record. You know it just keeps coming, keeps coming… 



TERRILL:    Right! 



GERALD:     That’s a blessing in itself. So maybe Volume 2 will come along in the next several months or so. 



TERRILL:    Cool. Then going back to your “Stax for Sax” Tribute, are you going to tour, promote the CD after the Playboy Jazz Festival? 



GERALD:     Absolutely. I’m already performing a couple of songs off that very project in the new Guitars and Saxes Tour. We just started this past weekend in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but once the record comes out, we’re going to do a full press promotion and marketing of it. It’s just all about getting the people to hear the stuff. I think that they’ll be excited about what they hear. It’s a little different flavor for me. It’s a bit more old school, from what my audience is normally hearing from me. But we brought it up to date with some of the different sounds and production techniques we’re able to use these days. I think it’s a nice marriage of the old and the new. 



TERRILL:    Good! I can’t wait to hear it man. I know it’s going to be hot and you know my staff will be ready to go and grab that CD for an immediate review. Hopefully we can tie it together with this interview. But ultimately, just as a musician yourself and a well experienced musician at that: who out there in today’s music scene are you admiring? Are you admiring anybody in particular – that you’re pretty much enjoying their sounds? 



GERALD:     Well, there’s a lot of guys that are doing really good. I mean,  there’s some mediocre players out there and there’s some guys that kind of stand out. I love what Kirk Whalum is doing these days. Kirk Whalum is hitting both the gospel market and the secular market in terms of his productions, touring and everything. He just has the fingerprint sound that honestly a lot of saxophone players do not have. A lot of guys out there, you hear them on the radio and you kind of wonder which guy it this. But then you hear somebody like a Kirk Whalum. You could hear two or three notes and you know it’s Kirk. And that’s a real important thing to have. That’s kind of like your brand and those are the kind of guys I appreciate in present days. I mean, those guys that really have their own sound. Like a Branford Marsalis or Wynton Marsalis or there’s a young guy – Eric Darius, that is doing very well. They claim that he’s kind of a protégé of my sound, but he also kind of has his own thing too and he has a lot of energy. I like what Mike Philips is doing and he’s a guy that has a lot of energy on stage and stuff. So you know, the legacy of jazz is really strong and I think the next wave of young guys is going to take good care of it. Take it where it needs to be. 



TERRILL:    Going back to what you just stated about that niche sound and knowing who’s coming in as soon as you hear a sound…you know who it is, you know. It’s like hearing the base pluck and you know it’s Marcus Miller. I know when I hear your stuff, man it’s automatically you! Right on the track! I mean, you can be anywhere – in the mall, at Kmart, I don’t care. You could be in the elevator, you could be anywhere. As soon as I hear that music come on, as soon as that sax whales out,  ‘man that is Gerald Albright!’  



GERALD:     That’s nice of you to say, I appreciate that. 



TERRILL:    That’s real man! Like I said, we really appreciate the time you’re spending with us today for the interview and  hey, going back to the Sax for Stax project. Are you dabbling into some other music genres by chance? You said about the project that it was a little more old school for you. Have you thought about doing a gospel approach? 



GERALD:     I have. I have done some gospel-flavored songs on particular records in the past and I’ve been a part of some live gospel presentations.  I get asked that all the time. I’d like, I’m pondering that. I’d like to possibly do a gospel CD in the near future. I mean I love gospel music man. It’s a genre of music that really gets to my heart and soul and there’s nothing like good gospel music man. When it’s sung and performed right, there’s nothing like it. With the positive messages obviously that gospel has, like the Kirk Franklins of the world are doing and just so many different artists: Donnie McClurkin, once again Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler. All these guys. I’d like to be a part of that mission, just to keep the positivity out there. I’m a God-fearing guy myself, so it would be parallel to my belief anyway. So I think it’s going to happen. I think it’s going to happen.  



TERRILL:    The last couple of tracks off your previous ones that you indicated was awesome man. In some ways unexpected. When you had covered that one track, I believe it’s off the “Grooveology”….. 



GERALD:     Yeah, actually Donnie McClurkin’s “We Fall Down.” 



TERRILL:    That’s right. 



GERALD:     Yes. I know when I first heard that song, it just immediately hit me man. I was like ‘Oh My God’ it’s such a simple song. I mean the concept of a simple lyric – “We fall down, We get up,”  It’s like, this is the kind of stuff people need to hear because people are always living volatile lives. Sometimes you just need that song to just kind of lift you up. That song has been really positive in my life so I wanted to do an instrumental version of it and include it on the “Grooveology”, which I totally enjoyed putting together. 



TERRILL:    Oh yeah! We look forward to it. In fact, we encourage you to do it. I know the fans can’t wait to see that definitely. It just goes to show how deep you are about your music, how well textured you are. In any event, we look forward to seeing you at the Playboy Jazz.  



GERALD:     Beautiful. 



TERRILL:    And I hope you go in there and turn them out!! I know you will man! 



GERALD:     Thank you. We’re going to have some fun and we want everybody to come out to share the moment with us. 



TERRILL:    Cool, cool. And will look forward to “Sax for Stax” come June 24th, 2008. 



GERALD:     And people can find some information about it on my website, www.geraldalbright.com  



TERRILL:    I’m looking right at it! 



GERALD:     All right. 



TERRILL:    Brother, thank you so much for your time. 



GERALD:     My pleasure. 



TERRILL:    And God bless you man and we hope that – would you like to do a part two down the road? 



GERALD:     Absolutely. 



TERRILL:    Let’s do it for the “Sax for Stax.”  



GERALD:     You got it. I’ll look forward to that. 



TERRILL:    You got it man, take care… 



GERALD:     All right, all the best.

(Check Amazon for the discography of Gerald Albright! Cheers!)

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