Jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright likes to test his boundaries with each new album. Albright's spirit of adventure is alive and well on his latest effort, Pushing The Envelope.
Gerald Albright's versatility has placed him at the forefront of the "smooth" jazz scene. As Albright points out, sax isn't the only instrument he plays on the album.
"A lot of people don't know that I play the other instruments like bass guitar and a little bit of keyboards," Albright says. "I also play flute, and all the saxophones and clarinet and EWI, which is an electronic wind instrument. So, I like doing different things. It's just the passion for trying to reach the higher ground in this wonderful music business."
Albright pays tribute to "The Godfather of Soul" James Brown on the track, "What Would James Do?" He says Brown, and the great horn players that accompanied him, provided plenty of inspiration while growing up.
"One of my early influences was James Brown, and I have an older brother who literally had every James Brown record that he had made," Albright explains. "And we used to play this music over and over again in our household, so this is what I was digesting as a young kid. In listening to James Brown I heard Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley and all these wonderful horn players as part of James' group. So, it just really inspired me, and that R&B richness is definitely in my blood, and that's what comes out in my productions, my songwriting, and even in my live performances. I have to have that R&B influence in a very strong way."
Albright's "What Would James Do?" features James Brown's longtime band member Fred Wesley on trombone.
Other highlights include remakes of Michael Jackson's "Get On The Floor," and The Carpenters' hit song "Close To You," as well as Albright's foray into world music.
"We also have a tune called 'Cape Town Strut' which hints at the South African flavor of music, and 'Bobo's Groove' which is, of course, Latin," Albright says. "So, you have all these elements within the project that will hopefully make it global, and the whole planet will embrace this CD as one that makes them feel better."
Also featured on Pushing The Envelope is "The Road To Peace," dedicated to the people of Haiti, as well as a tune featuring Grammy-winning guitarist Earl Klugh called "I Found The Klugh."