By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – Gerald Albright has a simple invitation for local music lovers.
“We want you to come out and party with us” at the Camellia City Smooth Jazz Festival that debuts on Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Northshore Harbor Center in Slidell.
If you know much about Albright and his incredible music career you might do well to take him up on his invitation.
Albright will be the headlining act to close the evening on Saturday after 10 earlier musicians and singers take to the stage for what is undoubtedly going to be a great day of music. The music begins at 11:15 and continues all day until Albright takes the stage at 9 p.m.
When asked about the message he wants to send to Slidell music fans and those across the North Shore, particularly those who may not be as familiar with smooth jazz music, Albright said “we want to party with Slidell. This is not a sit down show. You will want to get up and dance because our band gives 200 percent every time we take the stage.”
Albright’s resume speaks for itself about the talent level from the Los Angeles native.
After starting a music career at a young age when his piano teacher gave him a saxophone, Albright also found himself falling in love with the bass guitar—two instruments he will feature in his show on Saturday.
Albright has had nearly 10 Grammy nominations for his own albums or collaborations on other CDs and has performed with so many top, national artists that it would take most of this page to list them all.
Among a few more recognizable names is Phil Collins, who asked Albright to join him on tour with his band in 1998, while he has also performed with Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston, the Temptations, Anita Baker and dozens more.
From an early adult age he has been a highly-requested session musician and to date has appeared on over 200 albums by other artists with his outstanding talent on sax and bass. But he has also recorded his own successful solo albums that have earned four Grammy nominations, not to mention several other Grammy nominations on other albums.
“Our goal with this music and particularly in concert is to connect with the audience. We want you to feel better walking out of the show than when you walked in,” he said.
As for the genre gaining popularity that is known as “Smooth Jazz,” Albright said he doesn’t really put himself in that category, although many others seem to be doing it.
“I’ve been called a smooth jazz artist, but I consider myself more of a contemporary jazz and R&B musician,” he explained. “As for this new festival, I’m excited to come to Slidell and help launch it.
“My wife is from New Orleans and the entire region there in Louisiana is so festive and full of music,” he remarked. “I hope the folks will come out and embrace this music—I think you will be surprised how good it is if you show up and give it a listen. I promise you will have a great time.”
Albright has played many of the biggest festivals around, smooth jazz and otherwise, and said he enjoys the big ones as well as performing in front of smaller crowds. His band is currently playing “about 120 shows a year” so he gets his chance to do both.
“The big festivals are a lot of fun since it’s such a party atmosphere,” he said. “Our music is certainly audience participation music. We hope to see a lot of the people in the area—this will be a good time.”
Albright lives in Capitol Rock, Colorado with his wife and two children.