Gerald Albright – Norman Brown – 24/7

May 31, 2012

Ah yes, as if you didn’t know that, at some point, these two icons of the serious contemporary jazz groove — saxman Gerald Albright and guitarist Norman Brown- two of the best anywhere and two very amiable cats, would collaborate on a sizzler, here it is — 24/7, to be released on June 19 to a lot of happy ears. Considering the artists, you’d expect quality, strength, class, and more. You’ll get that—and much more. These guys are not who they are by accident, as this mighty production will show.

The album’s title is derived from the commitment of each to his respective instrument, but then, you should have guessed that. You don’t put together this kind of project without having that kind of commitment not only to the instruments but to the art itself. 

Each being a ray of sunshine in more ways than one, a combination of the two is almost overwhelming in a most delightful manner. The fluidity, dexterity, and mastery of the guitar by Brown coupled with the smoothness, emotion, soul, and total claiming of the sax by Gerald Albright make it all so very obvious as to why these two are at the top of their game and why they would decide to offer such a magnificent gift of collaboration to waiting jazzers everywhere.

With Brown’s often voiced love of the guitar being influenced by the legendary Jimi Hendrix and, later, the equally iconic Wes Montgomery, and Albright’s strong admiration for Cannonball Adderly among others, the vision for each had been formed long ago and, with that 24/7 commitment they each embrace, all that they have done to date makes so much sense, just as this album’s arrival makes so much sense.

The album has one appealing track literally following the other.  Not one is a toss-away.  This is sheer listening pleasure. You have so much on which to focus: The tracks themselves with the meticulous melodies, phrasing, arrangements, hooks , smoothness, funkiness, and stand-out vocals (witness Demille Cole-Heard on “Perfect Love” and Selina Albright on the title track and on the funky “Champagne Life”) ; each artist’s individual skills from the trademark Albright “squeaky” high note that he often sneaks in for effect to the lightning chops of Brown who is as funky just strumming on rhythm guitar as he is starting a fire on lead guitar; or the “dance” they choreograph together on each track.

From the perfect lead track, the happy and bouncy “In The Moment,” which sets a cool mood instantly, to Albright’s nod to the late Willie Bobo’s style on “Buenos Amigos” to Brown’s kick-it-up mid-tempo, funky “Yes I Can” all the way to the sweet, melodic, and soulful finale, “The Power of Your Smile,” these two artists undoubtedly shove every ounce of their creativity and talent into this production.  You’ll likely find yourself either listening or humming the melodies to these tunes 24/7. – Ronald Jackson

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