GERALD ALBRIGHT: Pushing The Envelope (Label: Heads Up)

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GERALD ALBRIGHT: Pushing The Envelope

Gerald Albright is in the Premier League of smooth jazz sax men and though his countless fans may be concerned by the title of this, his new 10 track album, they can rest assured that genial Ged doesn’t actually do too much envelope pushing. The set is right in the same mould as his previous best sellers – that’s to say it’s a very pleasing – but never daring – selection of lite jazz with a healthy crop of new tunes and a few faithful covers … all embellished with several guest appearances. Of those guests, Fred Wesley joins Albright on the opener, ‘What Would James Do’ and, yes – you’re right, it’s a kind of tribute to Fred’s one-time boss, James Brown and it’s a decent, almost-funky opener. Earl Klugh is the guest on the aptly-named ‘I Found The Klugh’… perfectly pleasant and as you’d expect with the guitar man in tow. George Duke adds distinctive piano to ‘The Road To Peace’ while Gerald’s daughter, Selina purrs her cooing backing vocals over the big set-piece cover – a version of Burt B’s ‘Close To You’. Again – very nice, but nothing new added and no new perspectives offered. The other cover is a bouncy version of Jacko’s ‘Get on The Floor’ . Once again, it’s fine but a little too polite to ignite. Best cut – at least to these ears – is the closing quiet storm slowie – ‘From The Soul’. It has a delightfully simple (almost soul-jazz) melody and Albright’s generously warm tone will recall David Sanborn, while Tracy Carter’s piano has the soulful warmth of Ramsey Lewis’s best 70s work. The cut has a real “feel” to it … lovely.
(BB) 3/5