You have to respect a guy like Gerald Albright, who can play his own instrument, the alto sax, so well, and play every other instrument in the band, and write and arrange the music.
But Albright, who appears Saturday at the Gem Theater (definitely not as a one-man band), has a knack for inspiring much more than mere respect in his audience.
He has almost 30 years of success to prove it. He’s amassed a bevy of friends and collaborators including Will Downing, Chaka Khan, Patrice Rushen, Quincy Jones and even Phil Collins.
Go ahead and try to dismiss what he’s doing as “smooth jazz,” but just try to keep your feet still when he’s playing. Betcha can’t.
Albright isn’t one of those hair-gelled stars going through the smooth-jazz motions. He’s a mover and shaker in the genre, constantly inventing more catchy grooves and beguiling melodies to play on.
Best of all, he really knows how to write a tune that gets stuck in your head.
It’s pop music, it’s soul music and it’s jazz all at once, and it’ll make you feel good. Don’t just respect it — jump in.
▪ Here’s a crossover project that fans of guitar music across the spectrum, from jazz to rock and beyond, can get behind. Guitar heroes Eric Johnson, a rock-blues-country-folk virtuoso who’s heard on a lot of hit records, and Mike Stern, a leading figure in jazz guitar since his stays with the Brecker Brothers band and Miles Davis, are collaborating on a project they call Eclectic Guitars. Their band jams at 9:30 p.m. Friday at RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road. Also, on the RecordBar’s alternative jazz series, the group Shades of Jade appears at 8 p.m. Sunday.
▪ The Blue Room, 1600 E. 18th St., has pianist Eddie Moore leading the Monday jam at 7 p.m. Pianist Michael Pagán leads a Northwestern University alumni band at 7 p.m. Thursday; that group also has tenor saxophonist Tim AuBuchon, bassist Hans Sturm and drummer Michael Brothers. Singer Ida McBeth returns to the Blue Room at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Singer Ron Gutierrez and pianist Charles Williams give the Valentine’s Day show at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
▪ Take Five Coffee + Bar, at 6601 W. 135th St., Suite A-21 in Overland Park (behind Von Maur), has a New Orleans air next weekend. Saxophonist and horn sculptor Mark Southerland leads a band he calls Mardi Ra at 8 p.m. Friday. Drummer Brad Williams leads the Second Line Valentine jam at 8 p.m. Saturday.
▪ Highlights at the Green Lady Lounge, 1809 Grand Blvd., include the Foundation 627 Big Band at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, the group BVibe at 9 p.m. Monday, guitar-driven fusion from Dojo at 8 p.m. Tuesday, organist Ken Lovern’s OJT at 9 p.m. Wednesday, organist Chris Hazelton’s trio at 9 p.m. Thursday, saxophonist Brett Jackson’s quartet at 10 p.m. Friday and OJT again at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
▪ The next public performance and recording session for the “12th Street Jump” radio show celebrates the music of composer Alec Wilder and features keyboardist Rich Hill. It’s at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Broadway Jazz Club, 3601 Broadway.
▪ Jazz Underground at Westport Coffee House Theatre, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave., has trombonist Marcus Lewis’ big band at 8 p.m. Thursday.