You know, if you had to pick a jazz artist to do justice to the hits of Stax Records’ past, you probably could come up with a few. But none with more earthiness, vigor, and a deep-down soul connection and appreciation than the always-popular, talented and renowned sax man (who can also play a mean bass, by the way) Gerald Albright. Stax is embarking on a comeback, I understand, to celebrate its 50th anniversary as the true stalwart of the 50s/60s/70s southern soul that so defined not only the Memphis sound, but the nation’s soul in soul music. Who better to bring in that celebration than the highly respected Albright with his latest effort Sax For Stax? Does he live up to his and Stax’s reputation? You bet he does.
This is Albright’s 11th solo project and, being co-produced by Rex Rideout and featuring such names as Ledisi, Philip Bailey and Will Downing, this one’s destined for the stars to join many of his other stellar projects. Tunes like The Dramatics' "What You See Is What You Get" and "Respect Yourself" were just made for this guy and one listen will quickly and undoubtedly bring you into agreement with me.
As he says: "Memphis is a great city from which many great musicians have made tremendous contributions to music." Can’t you just hear the chorus of agreement and applause from so many, including Isaac Hayes, Sam Moore, the late great Otis Redding, Carla and Rufus Thomas, and countless others? For an artist who is clearly on his way to "legend" status for his ability to merge jazz & R&B in such an exemplary fashion, this is just one more feather in his cap. Is Sax For Stax a must-have? That just goes without saying.