Groovology by Gerald Albright – reviewed by Chris Mann




Los Angeles-born Gerald Albright began piano lessons at an early age, though he had no real interest in the instrument.  His love of music took a fresh turn when he was given a saxophone that belonged to his piano teacher.  He later attended Locke High School, a breeding ground for many young West Coast musicians, where his peers included Patrice Rushen and Ndugu Chancler. 

After college where he received a B.S. Degree in Business Management, minoring in music, Albright began working extensively in the studio with Patrice Rushen, Anita Baker, Ray Parker, Jr., The Winans, and The Temptations, to name just a few.  At about this time, after watching “Thunder Thumbs” Louis Johnson in concert, he took up bass and finished a tour with Patrice as a bassman! 

He also toured with Les McCann, Rodney Franklin, Jeff Lorber, Teena Marie, Marlene Shaw, Debra and Eloise Laws, Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins and many others. 

“Groovology” is Gerald’s ninth solo album (if you include his 1998 collaboration with singer Will Downing) and is his first release for GRP/Verve.  The impressive line-up of artists who have collaborated on this project – including Jeff Lorber, Chuckii Booker, Sheila E, Paul Jackson Jr. and Ricky Lawson would be cause enough to get excited.  These combined talents have pushed Gerald Albright to produce some very special performances… 

A lovely old-skool feel greets you on the opening song Old School Jam.  It’s got a funky bass and drum track and loads of soulful alto jammin’.  This tune is just what it says it is.  It rocks! 

The snappy title track, with funky, funky bass, the tightest of horn stabs and a powerhouse rhythm is completely addictive.  Never knew Mr. Albright could funk it like this! 

Bring a L’il Love is a “quiet storm” delight.  A sexy ballad with a strong groove and superb male vocals courtesy of Chris Walker and Terrell Carter.  This really is the standard by which “smooth jazz” vocal performances should be measured. 

But… don’t take your dancing shoes off yet.  On Ain’t no Stoppin’, Gerald’s rockin’ on bass and on the tenor sax.  This groove-laden tune was penned in collaboration with Jeff Lorber.  I’m doing some serious head-knodding while writing this.  Rewind!! 

Change the World, from the soundtrack of the Travolta movie “Phenomenon” was originally – and beautifully – performed by Eric Clapton.  Check this out – it stays true to the original but has soulful sax, heavenly backing vocals and it really swings.  Much more than the average smooth jazz cover.  Much, much more. 

The ballad I Will Always Love You is slow and sexy.  It has a beautiful acoustic guitar solo and more classy backing vocals.  The flawless tenor sax is the star though. 

Albright’s bass licks again support that tasty tenor on The Next Level.  It’s funky and very sassy.  I’d love to see a TV show cool enough to use this as a theme tune. 

I Need You is a sweet, mellow urban groove.  The male vocals, lead and backing, are up to the very highest standards.  Albright’s soprano sax on here is clean with the perfect amount of reverb.  A delight. 

Oh, but slap that bass again G.A!  This mid-tempo stepper Don’t Hold Back – a homage to James Brown – is the very essence of good-time contemporary jazz.  The lead and backing horns are right on the money and the mid-song key change really makes me smile.  Radio jocks, ditch your current signature tune and spin this. 

The thoughtful and gospel-tinged We Fall Down closes the set.  The choir sounds fantastic and the pleading cry of the tenor heightens the drama. 

Pull any track from this ten-song CD and you’d have enough reason to buy it.  Take all ten as a whole and you’ve got no excuse for not buying it.  This is one of the must-haves of 2002.  Stunning.



Verve/GRP– cat no. 3145-89655-2   Producers – Gerald Albright, Marvin McQuitty, Jeff Lorber, Luther Hanes, Paul Brown, Greg Curtis