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Gerald Albright: Groovology

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Saxophonist Gerald Albright has been around way too long and covered too many styles to be lumped in with your average contemporary-jazz players. Soul-jazz innovators Eddie Harris, Cannonball Adderley, Maceo Parker, Stanley Turrentine and Grover Washington are Albright’s role models, and he’s usually a killer player even when working in formula-based music.

Albright’s latest CD, Groovology, has a little bit of everything, including talented players such as guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., drummer Ricky Lawson, keyboardist Bobby Lyle and percussionist Sheila E., but there’s never any roof-raising jamming that the saxophonist and others are capable of. “Old School Jam” and “Ain’t No Stoppin'” are appealing, upbeat funk tunes, but the saxophonist plays moderately throughout. The love sauce is laid on exceptionally thick for the ballad “Bring a Li’l Love,” with vocalists Greg Curtis and Chris Walker soulfully bellowing. Rounding things out there’s gospel by way of “We Fall Down” and a cover of megahit “Change the World.”

Groovology is a polished recording, but it lacks fireworks. That may be the laid-back CD’s intention, but it’s a shame to so thoroughly subdue as animated and skilled a player as Albright.