8 X Grammy Nominee & #2 Smooth Jazz Artist of The Year, Gerald Albright's G-Stream Album is Fire!
Updated: Feb 15, 2022
Photos by: Brandon Albright & Additional Photos are courtesy of Gerald Albright
Selling well over one million albums, the legendary R&B, contemporary and straight-ahead jazz saxophonist, Gerald Albright is a force to be reckoned with! His extraordinary career accomplishments include over 19 albums, eight Grammy nominations, and most recently, he was titled the # 2 Billboard Smooth Jazz Artist of the year on the 2021 year-end chart! What an accomplishment! So deserved! Appearing on over 200 recordings, Gerald's massive meteor sized rooster includes playing with a plethora of well accomplished music industry giants such as, playing on albums by, Olivia Newton-John, Maurice White, Atlantic Starr, Lola Folana, Ray Parker, Anita Baker, The Temptations, and a boat load of others.
Gerald’s touring credit are equally impressive as he has performed with, Whitney Houston, Jeff Lorber, Les McCann, Teena Marie, Quincy Jones, Marlena Shaw, the Winans and the list goes on. Additionally, he has appeared on numerous TV shows such as the American prime time television soap opera, Melrose Place, on NBC 1987 sitcom, Different World, and others. Not only is he remarkably talented, but he is also a super awesome husband and father who has a love for God! I had the honor of interviewing this amazing man. Here’s what he shared with me.
Hi Gerald, how are you today?
Fine, how are you today?
I'm having an amazing day! Thank you! Glad to hear that your day is going well.
Yes, my day has been very productive. I'm getting through it. Everything's been positive so far. I'm happy about that.
That's amazing news! Where are you located?
I'm South of Denver.
Believe it or not, it's 72 degrees so, I'm in shorts and tennis shoes and savoring the moment.
I know that's right.
It's going to be colder later this week.
Well, you better enjoy it right now. In Palm Springs where I live, it's always sunny.
I'm sorry. I won't rub it in.
We've been here for 17 years, so we like something about it.
Awesome. Well, Gerald, it is an honor to speak with such an amazing musician as yourself.
It's my pleasure to speak with you today Gina.
Well Gerald, let’s get into it. Eight Grammy nominations, over 30 years of playing, 20 CD’s and one EP, all I can say is wow! In my opinion, and I'm sure in so many others, you are considered an icon in the smooth jazz industry.
Your credits and accomplishments speak for themselves. You have managed to achieve something that many artists only dreamed of. How did it all begin?
I'm a California boy and I grew up in South Central LA. I've always loved music. At the request of my mom and dad, I began playing piano at 8 years old. Because I was into sports, mainly football and baseball, I was constantly unprepared for my weekly piano lessons. At that age piano was just not something that I took an interest in. “George Turple,” who was my teacher and choir director at the church I attended in my youth, noticed my lack of interest in piano. Because of that, he approached my parents with an alternative option.
Turns out that he had an old saxophone in his garage that he hadn't played in years. So, he dusted it off, and brought it to the next lesson.
The next time we met, he told me that we were going to do something different. So, we put the sax together, and started making sounds. He taught me how to do scales and melodies. That's where it all began.
That was the moment that a star was born. What was it about the sax that had an advantage over the piano?
I fell in love with the sax because it was totally different then the piano. I found it to be a lot more intriguing. I enjoyed the fact that I can blow through it and that it had cool little keys that I could press that made sounds. So, it was more interesting to me at my 8-year-old self. I really became inclined to play it, and from that point, I never put it down. From that point on, playing saxophone became my destiny.
What a great foundational story. So, as you began developing your skills, where did that lead you?
Basically, I started off as a studio musician working on projects around the Los Angeles area. I worked on many albums and movie soundtracks. As my career progressed, the opportunity presented itself for me to go on the road with, “Anita Baker” for approximately a two-year span.
Shortly thereafter, in 1987, I signed a deal with “Atlantic Records.” I recorded seven albums with Atlantic. That snowballed into 21 projects, four of which were recorded under my own label, “Bright Music Incorporated.” Fast forward to today, I feel blessed to still be making great music into 2021 and 2022. I'm truly grateful because music is my passion.
That’s wonderful! Growing up in Los Angeles can present a lot of challenges for young people. I have firsthand experience growing up in Inglewood, and central LA. I remember being surrounded by many dark entities. drugs, gangs, rundown environments and even witnessing deaths. With so many young people being exposed to that type of environment at such a young age, some become a part of that culture and never make it out. What's even more tragic is that although God has given everyone a purpose and an assignment in life, some never experience the blessing of seeing those dreams materialize.
So, that's a blessing and a testimony in and of itself, only make it out of LA, you stayed focused, stuck with your goals, and were able to realize your dreams. Your life and your success prove that greatness can come out of any community. Speaking of greatness, can you tell me about your Gerald Albright cannon ball is the GT five B tenor saxophone series?
Yes, it's a sax that I designed along with cannonball musical instruments some years ago. We have a signature alto, soprano and tenor saxophone that we've been selling on the market both domestically and internationally for many years.
Yes, it is, and It's doing very well! So much so that we’ve received positive reviews from both students and professional players expressing their complete satisfaction with our product. Quite naturally, hearing how happy they are, makes me happy.
I've been playing cannonballs exclusively for almost two decades now. I love the instruments, and I'm honored and confident to put my name behind these instruments because they are great tools for saxophonist and woodwind players. This is true both domestically and internationally. I'm also proud to have a great relationship with the company as well. Our relationship is so good that I consider them extended family. So, it's kind of a win, win on all levels.
Yeah, I love my line of saxophones! Definitely!
That's amazing! You received a special honor of achievement. Tell me about that?
Yeah, out of the blue, our current President, “Joe Biden” awarded me the Lifetime Achievement Award for my work, both as a professional musician and for community my service.
Wow! What an amazing honor!
Yes! I was just so elated! It caught me by surprise! I didn't know it was coming! After I received the award, we blasted it on social media, and everybody had wonderful things to say about my accomplishments. After that, I thought to myself, I must be doing something right when the President of the United States recognizes your contributions to society. So, I was I was very humbled and very excited about the award.
Although I've had the opportunity to meet with other presidents during my career, this award really takes the cake! So, I'm very happy.