What the Pro's Play - Saxophonist Gerald Albright
Woodwind & Brasswind Contributing Writer – Greg Vail
Gerald Albright has been in the instrumental music world and pop RnB music scene for decades. He is a well-respected and often emulated saxophonist on soprano, alto, tenor and even baritone sax on occasion. Gerald is a Cannonball Saxophone endorsee using Cannonball saxes for 9 years, and playing his personal, signature model Cannonball Saxophones with the exception of a standard Cannonball bari sax.
His alto saxophone for the past 6 years has been the Cannonball GA5-SB with a silver plated body and black bell with an anodized nickel plate. Many experiments with metal combinations, revisions, various necks and options created this Signature Model, which is available with a few different finishes and neck options. His neck of choice is the Fat Neck, patterned after the old King Super 20 where the tone hole was on the bottom of the neck. "It gives you a little more width of sound and a little more roundness because the bore's a little thicker there."
Beyond the sound, another thing he loves is the construction of this saxophone saying, "It's a sturdy horn that is very road worthy." There are no special modifications for Gerald, unique to his saxophone. All GA5's ship the same - Gerald's Signature Model alto.
The mouthpiece is a Beechler Studio Diamond Inlay, hard rubber #8 that he has played for a year now, and is just one of many Beechler pieces he has played. Gerald has worked with Judy at Beechler for many years and they have worked on getting one Gerald loves. But he is not one to be changing out his set-up all the time. "When I fill in on something that I actually love, I just stay there." He says the Beechler sounds great, responds well with any reed and opens up more of the altissimo range for him; an area of the sax Gerald seems to own.
As for reeds, Gerald has been using Legere #1 3/4 synthetic since they seem to be a little more consistent at higher elevations, but has been known to go back to cane on a La Voz medium hard. The ligature is a Vandoren Optimum Ligature.
He loves the balance of bright with warmth and projection he gets with this set-up. His sound concept is somewhere between Cannonball Adderly and Maceo Parker and this set-up delivers.
On tenor sax, Gerald is playing his signature model, black Cannonball GT5-SB with the Cannonball Fat Neck again. His mouthpiece is a Theo Wanne hard rubber Datta #8 with the supplied Theo Wanne ligature. The lig has an interesting design with one screw and a pressure plate that contacts the top of the mouthpiece and the reed, really freeing up the vibration of the reed. "Really, really cool, responsive mouthpiece! What I really love about it is when you go down to the low Bb, the lower part of the horn; it just really speaks well. Anything you want, it just does it for you. Conversely, the altissimo register, it gives me what I need as well." His reeds are synthetic Legere #2 and Medium Hard La Voz. "I try to get consistency thru the horn, clarity of sound, the weight of it, and the projection."
He says he started really focusing more on tenor sax a year and a half ago when he got the opportunity to fill in for Wilton Felder with the Jazz Crusaders.
Albright uses both curved and straight Cannonball soprano saxophones. The curved model GSC5-SB with the silver plated body and black nickel plated bell is his recording horn, very in tune and sounds great. Live shows Gerald plays the straight soprano model GS5-B in the black nickel finish with a silver plated neck, mostly due to the visual. He is a big guy and feels the curved soprano looks too much like a toy when doing big shows. His mouthpieces are the Beechler hard rubber #8 with the Beechler ligature, and an unknown metal mouthpiece.
Gerald's baritone saxophone is also a black anodized nickel, Cannonball, model B1-BL with gold keys and the low A. His set-up includes a Theo Wanne Durga #8 mouthpiece with the supplied ligature with Legere synthetic reeds.
If you catch Gerald live, you might just see an alto on the stage these days, but stop by his site and you can hear him on all of the saxophones. Go to www.GeraldAlbright.com for more information on his music.