by Val Vaccaro
This year’s 2006 Guitars & Saxes (G & S) terrific lineup includes guitarists Jeff Golub and Peter White, and saxophonists Richard Elliot and Gerald Albright.
If you are a smooth jazz fan, and you haven’t already been to a G & S show in the past 11 years (it now has institution-status!), you need to know that you are guaranteed to have a great time! Each of these guys is a consummate musician in his own right and has a wonderful rapport with the audience. Together, the dynamic, playful, and improvisational interaction between the musicians makes for delightful entertainment! The top-notch G & S backing band members for this tour include: Ron Reinhardt on keyboards, Nate Philips on bass, Dwight Sills on guitar, and Ricky Lawson on drums.
Jeff Golub always amazes audiences as an exciting and endearing performer with his diversity on electric guitar on everything from sultry smooth jazz ballads to playful, funky, bluesy, uptempo soulful pop-rock tunes. Golub’s influences range from Wes Montgomery to Jeff Beck to The Average White band; his work with contemporary jazz icons like Bob James, and rockers like Rod Stewart, Billy Squier and Peter Wolf might also have something to do with it.
From the smooth finesse of Wes Montgomery, to edgy, searing, rousing sounds of rock… Jeff Golub is a musician of great emotional depth and range. Jeff has said, “When I was a kid playing rock music, so much of it was jazz… early Cream records, …Traffic, Santana, the Allman Brothers. I’m not happy about the way that music has to be pigeonholed and categorized with words. You have to say what bin it's going to go into in the store, which radio station is going to play it because it fits this description. The things that inspired most of us to play had no description of where they were coming from. It was just a lot of different influences coming together… Things like formats and what is popular come and go, but if you are true to yourself as an artist, that doesn't come and go. That is what is always there, and the people who come to listen to you will always appreciate that. You have to be yourself. You try to be the most charming version of yourself, but you still have to be yourself.”
Golub has certainly proved he has mastered more than one format, which makes for interesting compositions and wonderful performances appreciated by audiences. If you see Golub perform one of his smoldering originals such as “Naked City” or “Stockholm,” you know the incredible range and intensity of Golub’s electric guitar sounds, as well as special cat-like cries and violin sounds. Since I first saw Golub perform at SOB’s (Sounds of Brazil) nightclub in NYC in 1996, I have likened Golub’s musical diversity to the baby-boomer cartoon hero Felix the Cat, who had his magical bag of tricks.
Golub has often received airplay with the catchy duet recorded with Peter White aptly named “No Two Ways About It” (on Golub’s CD in 2000 called Dangerous Curves), which might be included in the set list. However, a show with Jeff Golub wouldn’t be complete without a funky, boisterous Average White Band medley of his No. 1 radio hit “Pick Up The Pieces” (Avenue Blue CD) and “Cut The Cake” (from the CD Do It Again). Speaking of cake, the icing on my wish list to see live has been the classic funky Eddie Harris jazz tune “Cold Duck Time” which Golub recorded with Albright (on Golub’s 2002 Do It Again CD). Audiences hopefully will finally get to see Golub and Albright work their dynamic duo musical exchange live – a real treat! Another song you most likely will hear on the tour is “Uptown Express” - an easy-going groovy, cool tune reminiscent of Wes and the 60’s vibe - spiked with Golub’s spunky spin (from Temptation, Golub’s current CD on the Narada Jazz label).
Also, Golub has a much-anticipated new CD in the works. Since Golub has such an affinity for groovy 60’s vibes, maybe he should consider covering tunes such as the TV theme “Secret Agent Man” or “Love Potion No. 9.” Golub has had some of his compositions on movie soundtracks before – maybe an Austin Powers sequel could include Golub in cameo scenes playing his version of “The In Crowd” (on Golub’s Nightlife CD), or other cool tunes Golub has recorded, or will record in the future! Check the website for updates.
Peter White’s sweet, melodic acoustic guitar sounds have graced twelve No. 1 smooth jazz radio hit songs including “Talkin’ Bout Love,” from his Confidential CD (Columbia). Peter has said, “I play from the heart, which is where music ultimately comes from. It’s about tapping into the soul and allowing the emotions within to pour forth. The battle is to trust your instincts without trying to be too clever, which only ends up corrupting the process and seldom works anyway.”
Peter’s smooth grooves have earned him the title “Guitarist of the Year” four years in a row from National Smooth Jazz Awards. Peter’s new CD is Playin' Favorites (Sony), a follow-up to his popular CD Reflections of romantic cover tunes, as well as his cover of the Isley Brothers’ tune “Who's That Lady" (from the Glow CD). White’s new CD includes the single "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" - the old Junior Walker song - and the classic Grover Washington tune “Mister Magic” – a favorite or as White would prefer, a “favourite” (British version) song of fans and musicians alike.
Richard Elliot’s dramatic emotive style, with distinctive growls and sensuous sounds on tenor sax have put his heart-warming imprints on Motown classics such as his now trademark tune “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and his cover of “Secret Love.” Elliot has worked with Natalie Cole, The Pointer Sisters, Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops, The Temptations, and Tower of Power.
Elliot’s current CD Metro Blue (ARTizen Music Group – his label with Rick Braun, manager Steve Chapman and industry veteran Al Evers) is his 14th solo album. So far, Metro Blue includes three catchy hits: The Stylistics’ classic R & B tune “People Make The World Go Round,” an optimistic, passionate original tune “Mystique,” and the soulful song “Inside Out.” According to Elliot, “I wanted to create a different sound that is organic, funky and soulful. I wanted it to have a moody urban vibe, but not an American urban sound; more like a Euro urban sound”.
Gerald Albright’s bright, bluesy and uplifting tone on alto sax and incredibly high altissimo notes are instantly recognizable. He also plays tenor and soprano sax, but it’s his work on alto that stays in my memory. Albright has worked with artists such as Anita Baker, Patrice Rushen, Nina Simone, Barry White, Nancy Wilson and The Temptations. Albright’s cover of Luther Vandross’ hit “So Amazing” demonstrates his incredibly inspiring range and power. Albright’s improvisational prowess and soulful sounds delight on other hit tunes like “My, My, My” and “Bermuda Nights.” The ultimate anthem that Albright expressively soars on is the classic Ray Charles tune “Georgia On My Mind.” A new version of “Georgia…” is on the current CD New Beginnings (Peak Records), his 11th recording as a solo artist. “We Got The Groove” is a catchy jam tune that jumpstarts the new CD. The G & S show will most likely feature a number of these songs.
Last year, Albright toured with Phil Collins, and performed on the “Groovin' for Grover” tour with Elliot and others. This summer, Albright, Elliot and White appear with other smooth jazz artists on a re-release of the CD Jason Miles presents: To Grover With Love (Artizen Music Group) a tribute to the late great saxophonist Grover Washington Jr.
Albright has said “I find the most gratification in the simple but powerful reactions of people in the audience when I play... It’s like through The Creator, I’m a messenger, and my job is to touch someone new every day with the music I play. If people come to one of my shows with the weight of the world on their shoulders, my goal for those few hours is to give them a nice release from their troubles and take them to a fresh, exciting place. … With every note I play, I really want to move people.” That’s true of all of the artists on the G & S tour!
Guitars & Saxes is still one of my favorite smooth jazz shows – a must to see for all smooth jazz fans. The first time I saw G & S I was really impressed; it was in 1996 at the Inter-Media Arts Center (IMAC) Theater in Huntington, Long Island (in New York) with Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Peter White and Marc Antoine. Back in my 1996 review I wrote, “For the sake of contemporary jazz fans across the nation, let’s hope they extend the (Guitars, Saxes and More) tour in the future.” Like so many thousands of fans, I’m glad the show goes on and hope it will continue to for many decades!
Here are some G & S tour dates and places (check the artists’ websites for updated listings):
2006 TOUR SCHEDULE
*GS denotes 2006 Guitars & Saxes featuring
Jeff Golub, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Peter White.
DATE CITY VENUE
14 St. Louis, MO The Pageant - *GS
15 Chicago, IL Chicago Theater - *GS
27 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre - *GS
28 Huntington, NY IMAC - *GS
29 Harrisburg, PA The Forum - PA - *GS
30 Annapolis, MD Rams Head - *GS
31 Alexandria, VA The Birchmere - *GS
01 Alexandria, VA The Birchmere - *GS
02 Annapolis, MD Rams Head - *GS
04 Norfolk, VA Town Point Park - *GS
05 Woodinville, WA Chateau Ste. Michelle - *GS
10 Saratoga, CA The Garden Theatre - *GS
11 Sacramento, CA Radison Hotel - *GS
12 Healdsburg, CA Rodney Strong Winery - *GS
13 Long Beach, CA Rainbow Lagoon Park - *GS
19 Concord, CA Chronicle Pavillion - *GS
25 Newport Beach, CA Hyatt Newport
22 Avalon, CA Avalon Ballroom - *GS
06 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Cabo Wabo
Jeff is a “PORT OF CALL GUEST” of the Dave Koz Cruise and will be appearing at Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas on Monday November 6th
20-27, 2007 Lvs Ft. Lauderdale Warren Hill Smooth Jazz Cruise