Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Friends for three decades and now recording partners, smooth jazz superstars Gerald Albright and Norman Brown are all set to release their first ever album together. Titled 24/7, this fine ten-track recording draws on their collective jazz sensibilities in a way that is little short of sublime and with almost fifty years of recording experience between them, there is little doubt that these two fine players sit loftily at the very peak of their respective careers. In fact Albright’s resume reaches all the way back to 1987 and the CD Just Between Us while Brown, by way of a massive coincidence, made his debut in 1992 with a project that, remarkably, was also named Just Between Us. Despite all of that it seems certain that for both of them, 24/7 will bring a future that is every bit as good as their illustrious past.
24/7 is a wonderful slice of ultra accessible smooth jazz which with ‘In The Moment’ starts exactly the way it intends to go on. One of seven originals written or co-written by either Albright or Brown it has the sort of feel good vibe that typifies much of what the genre should all be about while elsewhere the vibrant ‘Buenos Amigos’ is the place where Latin meets funk in the most delightful of ways.
‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ was written by Brown in collaboration with up-coming sax player Jeanette Harris. It has an easy grooving retro tinged vibe that checks every box imaginable and another of Brown’s tunes, ‘Perfect Love’, is replete with the fluid playing style that he has made entirely his own and comes complete with dreamy backing vocals from Rochella Brown and Demille Cole-Heard. Rochella is Brown’s daughter and Demille his godson so its no surprise that with the silky smooth title cut Albright also makes it something of a family affair. Not only does he come up big on alto sax, flute, bass and percussion but in addition puts the song’s sumptuous vocals into the capable hands of daughter Selina Albright. This is a track that can be best summed up as six plus minutes of unadulterated smooth jazz joy and when Selina returns to sing background vocals for the brilliant ‘Champagne Life, Brown and Albright make this outstanding Ne-Yo song feel brand new. In fact the inclusion of the song was Albright’s idea. He thought it would work particularly well for the duo’s live summer concert dates but in the event it stands out amongst the finest that 24/7 has to offer.
Written by Brown’s long-term production partner Herman Jackson, ‘Keep It Moving’ is another feisty tune that showcases to perfection the chemistry that Albright and Brown have going on and, although the hip swinging, mid tempo ‘Yes I Can’ has the sort of edgy quality that is sure to play well with a live audience, a mellow cover of the Brothers Johnson 1976 hit ‘Tomorrow’ proves to be a highlight of a CD crammed full of them.
With strings courtesy of everyone’s favorite contemporary jazz violinist Mark Cargill, 24/7 is brought to a thoughtful yet emotional end by the velvety Albright composition ‘Power Of Your Smile’. Again the combined artistry of Albright and Brown is immense and like all great albums leaves the listener yearning for more.
24/7 will hit the streets on June 19 and comes highly recommended.
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.