Friday, May 25, 2012

Gerald Albright / Norman Brown 24/7 Concord 2012

This is both the Gerald Albright and Norman Brown release I have been waiting for. As individual solo artists they are first rate but together they move from first rate to special and in very short order!

Ten soul-jazz tracks of music that never sleeps is how the release is billed by Concord. Normally a label is more often than not guilty of the classic oversell but not here. Grammy winner Norman Brown who is for me, George Benson first blood part two teams up with Grammy nominated Gerald Albright for a release that is full of flavor but without pandering to a specific demographic or audience. The title 24/7 is a direct and very specific reflection to their ability and love for their music. Unlike most of us, Albright and Brown literally live their passion 24/7 and the end result is easily one of the better contemporary efforts of the year.

Naturally 24/7 spotlights Brown on lead and rhythm guitars. Albright is featured on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, flutes, bass guitar, ewi, percussion, programming and background vocals. The remainder of the band includes Tracy Carter on keyboards, Rick Watford on keyboards, Jay Williams on drums, Herman Jackson on keyboards, bassist Byron Miller, drummer Charles Streeter and percussionist Ramon Ysalas.

"In The Moment" and up beat funk infused number kicks off the party and allows both Albright and Brown the chance to stretch out while keying in on the spontaneity of the original composition. The biggest pet peeve I hear from contemporary jazz fans are including vocals on what should by its very nature be an instrumental release. "Perfect Love" features Brown's godson, DeMille Cole-Heard and the vocals are spot on. A nice soul filled flavor without every bordering on over kill. Albright's playing is a perfect compliment on this tune which is exactly a tasty highlight on this release. Norman Brown's "Yes I Can" is a groove you can use. Brown lays down a groove best felt with the hips and heard with the feet. Funky and full of vitality this energetic romp is classic Norman Brown. "The Best Is Yet To Come" was co-written by Brown and up and coming saxophonist Jeanette Harris that has that old school becomes new cool going back to the old CTI days. 24/7 ends a delightful ebb and flow with Albright's more contemplative "Power Of Your Smile" which showcases the obvious musical chemistry that has stood the test of time for three decades.

Concord has been on a roll for 2012 and 24/7 simply continues to build on quality music released by one of the finest labels in jazz. A release that is full of flavor as well as some well placed musical surprises including some stellar Latin work from Albrights finds 24/7 at the very top of the contemporary heap for 2012. A virtually flawless effort that even the hyper-critical would struggle finding serious fault with.

Tracks: In The Moment; Keep It Moving; Perfect Love; Buenos Amigos; Tomorrow; Yes I Can; 24/7; Champagne Life; The Best Is Yet To Come; Power Of Your Smile.