Contemporary Jazz

From The Gut

14 JUN 10 JOHN C. BRUENING

Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Gerald Albright has been an innovator and a pacesetter in the context of contemporary jazz since his earliest recordings in the late-'80s, which is why a title like Pushing The Envelope is appropriate for his latest recording on Heads Up.

Aided by few special guests -- trombonist Fred Wesley, acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh and keyboardist George Duke -- Albright mixes mostly original material with a couple cover tracks and comes up with a jazz stew flavored with the best elements of jazz, soul and pop.

The album (in stores June 15) gets off to a funky start with the playful "What Would James Do?" a midtempo track wherein Albright and Wesley trade riffs atop a churning groove. Immediately following is a stylish cover of the Michael Jackson/Louis Johnson, "Get on the Floor," featuring vocals by Albright's daughter Selina. She reappears a few tracks later in a laid back rendition of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic "Close To You".

Klugh lays down some effortless guitar lines right alongside Albright's tenor sax in the melodic "I Found The Klugh," while Duke's acoustic piano brings an added layer of resonance to the understated but emotional "The Road To Peace," a tune written as a prayer for Haiti.

"The title reflects all the tunes on the project," said Albright of the album. "I didn't want to hold anything back. I really wanted to push the envelope and give people a little more edge. I come from the era where we didn't think of formula -- we went from the gut."

in this playlist.