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GEARING UP FOR BERKS JAZZ FEST: Gerald Albright helps kick off event

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Here’s a look at multi-instrumentalist’s career

STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF 
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitter

If Gerald Albright was of a mind to blow his own horn, he’d be playing for quite some time.
The Los Angeles-born multi-instrumentalist — primarily saxophone — has a session and touring resume that includes Anita Baker, the Temptations, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Olivia Newton-John and many others. He’s also traded licks with former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
On his own, meanwhile, Albright released 17 studio albums, including last year’s “G,” and has been a mainstay on the Jazz Explosion tours. The laid-back life near Denver, where he resides these days, may suit him, but that doesn’t mean that Albright can’t still blow with the best of ‘em…


IF YOU GO

The 27th annual event takes place March 31 through April 9 at various venues throughout the greater Reading region. For details, concert schedules, performers and more, check www.berksjazzfest.com.

IN CONCERT

Gerald Albright performs as part of the Berks Jazz Fest during opening night celebration beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Santander Performing Arts Center along with Patti Austin and Jonathan Butler. For ticket information, check www.berksjazzfest.com/major-concert-schedule/

• It’s 30 years since Albright released his first solo album, “Just Between Us,” and he can’t believe that time has, er, blown by so quickly. “It feels like 30 seconds, actually,” Albright, 59, says by phone from his home. “There’s so much music to be written and performed yet, so many other new and exciting musicians and artists to perform wtih — I honestly feel like I’m getting started. I just have so much energy to do new things, and now that I’m celebrating my very first independent record (‘G’), there’s a while new level of freedom now.”

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• Albright contends that he was never wanting for creative freedom, but having his own label (Bright Music) means “we just don’t have the executives from the record company looking over your shoulder.” Aesthetically, however, there’s not much difference. “I’ve been very committed to bringing the genuine Gerald on all my projects,” Albright says. “I never really write a song thinking about radio or copying the current vibe of hit singles out there or what other sax players are doing. I just sit down and bring out what comes out, and on ‘G’ it was the same type of thing. But there was all this energy of, ‘Wow man, I’m doing this myself. I’m the executive producer, the producer. my name is truly on this project.’ I took that energy and put it into the (album).”

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• While Albright is focusing on his own work these days he was happy last year to hook up with former employer Phil Collins for a benefit concert that marked Collins’ comeback to the concert stage. Albright was invited to play with Collins during June in Europe but politely declined. “I did get the call and I sent an e.mail to both (Collins) and his manager,” Albright says. “I did a lot of soul-searching. When I made a decision to be an independent artist, it was a 100 percent decision. so it’s really time to invest in my own career. I was totally honored by his request to be a part of this tour, and it was great playing that show last March for his foundation. It’s so nice to see him come back, man. It’s been too long.”

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