All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

456

Gerald Albright: Sax for Stax

Woodrow Wilkins By
Published:
Sign in to view read count
Gerald Albright: Sax for Stax It's all about Memphis with Gerald Albright's Sax for Stax. The veteran saxophonist revisits the sounds of the 1960s and '70s that helped define a label and, to a certain degree, a generation of soul musicians.

A native of Los Angeles, Albright has effortless straddled the line between jazz and R&B, making music that is easily accepted by fans of one genre or the other. His inspirations include such tenor sax legends as John Coltrane and Eddie Harris, as well as alto sax specialist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and the versatile Maceo Parker. For this project, Albright was approached by Peak Records executive Mark Wexler about doing an album that tied in with parent label Concord's re-launching of Stax. Albright plays alto, tenor, and baritone sax on all tracks, but also contributes flutes, percussion programming, and bass guitar on some selections.

No Stax tribute would be complete without Isaac Hayes. Albright delivers a hard-charging cover of Hayes' "Theme from 'The Men,'" a seldom heard instrumental track from an obscure television series. With string arrangements by Mark Cargill, the core ensemble of Teddy Campbell on drums, Lenny Castro on percussion, Melvin Davis on bass, Tracy Carter on keyboards, and Errol Cooney on guitar, Albright captures the spirit of the original theme while making it fresh. A highlight is his Maceo Parker-esque alto solo near the end. Cargill's strings are very effective.

Guest vocalist Ledisi leads on the Staples Singers' "Respect Yourself." Cooney's rhythm guitar brings that early '70s flavor, while Albright's grinding alto adds a little seasoning. Rex Rideout, who produced and arranged several tracks, provides additional keys.

Memphis' Kirk Whalum plays tenor sax on one of three Albright originals, "Walkin' Down Beale Street," an easy-going track that lives up to its name. Earth, Wind & Fire's Philip Bailey joins for a moving presentation of the Dramatics' "What You See Is What You Get." Albright's arrangement injects a bit of Latin style on this mostly instrumental track.

Though this is mostly a cover album, it represents some of Albright's finest work. The selection of songs is excellent and the arrangements do justice to the originals without sounding trite. But more importantly, Albright shows his versatility in playing different saxophones, flutes, and bass. Sax for Stax is a fine tribute to the Memphis-based label and its artists.


Track Listing: Theme from 'The Men'; Knock on Wood; Never Can Say Goodbye; Memphis Passion; Respect Yourself; I Stand Accused; Cheaper to Keep Her; Walkin Down Beale Street; What You See Is What You Get; Whos Making Love; W.C. Handy Hop.

Personnel: Gerald Albright: baritone, tenor, alto saxes; flutes (1, 3, 4, 6), bass guitar (4, 6, 8), percussion programming (4, 11); Teddy Campbell: drums; Lenny Castro: percussion (1-3, 5-10); Melvin Davis: bass (1-3, 5, 7, 9, 10); Errol Cooney: guitar (1-3, 5, 7, 9, 10); Tracy Carter: keyboards (1-3, 5, 7-11); Mark Cargill: strings (1, 3, 6, 9); Rex Rideout: keyboards (2, 5, 6, 9, 10); Will Downing: vocals (3); Rick Watford: guitars (4, 8, 11); Arlington Jones: keyboards (4); Ledisi: vocals (5); Darrell Crooks: guitar (6); Selina Albright: background vocals (6); Kirk Whalum: tenor sax (8); Phillip Bailey: vocals (9); Mabvuto Carpenter: background vocals (9).

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Peak Records | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
24/7
24/7
Concord Music Group
2012
buy
Pushing The Envelope
Pushing The Envelope
Heads Up International
2010
buy
Sax for Stax
Sax for Stax
Peak Records
2008
buy
New Beginnings
New Beginnings
Peak Records
2006
buy
[no cover]
Kickin It Up
Atlantic
2004
buy
Groovology
Groovology
GRP Records
2002
buy
Spyro Gyra Spyro Gyra
band/orchestra
David Sanborn David Sanborn
saxophone
Bob James Bob James
piano
Jeff Kashiwa Jeff Kashiwa
saxophone
Wayman Tisdale Wayman Tisdale
bass, electric
Kirk Whalum Kirk Whalum
saxophone
Kenny G Kenny G
sax, soprano
Everette Harp Everette Harp
saxophone

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.