Berks Jazz Fest 2011: Guitars & Saxes

Sunday evening, another highlight was the Guitars & Saxes show featuring Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum, Peter White and Jeff Golub with special guests Jeff Lorber and Eric Marienthal, the event took place in the Sovereign Performing Arts Center. Those four performers belong to the very best of the genre, so the expectations were high. The show was started with Peter White, who introduced Kirk Whalum, followed by Jeff Golub and Gerald Albright, each one played a short part of one of their signature tracks. The band consisted of Sean McCurley on drums, Ron Reinhardt on keys plus a young bass player whose name I didn't catch. Peter White played his tribute to Wayman Tisdale with the song "Bright", followed by Kirk Whalum playing "Valdez In The Country" from his current release Everything Is Everything: The Music Of Donny Hathaway with a burning guitar solo by Jeff Golub, who later played his own "Shuffleboard" in his bluesy style. Gerald Albright stuck to his tried and tested classics "Mi, Mi, Mi" and "Georgia On My Mind", complete with the breaks and the familiar antics on the horn.

Always great is Peter White's rendition of the Isley Brothers' "Who's That Lady" (later segueing into "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"), and his own "Bueno Funk" which is one of my all-time favorites from his catalog. Jeff Golub brought back the blues with "In The Blink Of An Eye". A very entertaining segment of the show was when each artist told what players or songs had influenced them in the beginning, playing those songs - Kirk Whalum, the son of a pastor, reflected his gospel background with "Oh Happy Day", Jeff Golub was influenced by various blues players like B.B. King, he played "The Thrill Is Gone" (with Kirk Whalum singing), Gerald Albright grew up in L.A. and through the record collection of his brother learned about Maceo Parker and Cannonball Adderley, he played "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy", while Peter White in England was primarily exposed to the Beatles in his youth, obviously he learned fast after that. After Gerald Albright's "Pushing The Envelope" they brought special guests Jeff Lorber on keys and Eric Marienthal on sax to the stage to perform "Ain't Nobody" giving those players ample solo space, bringing a great and very entertaining concert to a close.