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Gerald Albright - Groovology Print E-mail
Tuesday, 18 June 2002
Gerald Albright
format: CD
label: GRP
release year: 2002
performance: 6
sound 7
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

By the time Gerald Albright finally drags his way to “Don’t Hold Back” on the album Groovology, the listener is desperately wishing this accomplished saxophonist had taken his own advice. A title like “Groovology” suggests that this project is a course in beat-happy jazz music, but Albright still sounds like he could use a few more lessons in basic funk academics.
His attempts at working up grooves fall short most of the time. “Ain’t No Stoppin’” is a light funk tune, co-written by keyboard player Jeff Lorber, highlighted by slapping bass. The track “Groovology” also stands out for its staccato horn part, which was arranged by Albright. These tunes have memorable elements, but they ultimately fail to raise the roof.

Albright never truly brings on the noise here. Too many of these cuts feel more like late night cool downs. “Change The World” (the fairly recent Eric Clapton hit) is given a silky smooth treatment due to Luther “Mano” Hanes’ singing. It takes on the feel of a Manhattan Transfer jazz vocal, combined with a gospel choir, while the vocal vamp at the end is reminiscent of Take 6. “I Will Always Love You” is not the Dolly Parton-penned Whitney Houston hit but is instead another lame-o smoocher, and even Albright’s fiery tenor saxophone solo can’t save it. “I Need You” is one more smooth jazz run-through. Terrell Carter both wrote and sings the number.

“We Fall Down” closes the album in a very gospel-y manner. It sounds something like a smooth soul choir. It may not earn a chapter in any “Groovology” textbook, but it’s an effective church-y song, nonetheless.

The playing of Albright’s sidemen here is topnotch throughout. The production is crisp, clean and radio-ready from top to bottom.

Albright is a fine player, but he hasn’t yet mastered the ability to match his fine jazz chops to equally fine funk beats. David Sanborn is a good example of someone who can play pop tunes in a funky way, yet never sounds like he’s sold out. Had Albright used some of these pop tunes as jumping-off points for improvised jams, “Groovology” would have earned straight A’s. As it stands, Albright’s report card ought to be noted with, Could do better.”

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