I went outside after the show and stood on the Chicago sidewalk in the cold. It was nearly Christmas and the day had been eerily dark since before I went into the concert hall. It was not snowing, but it felt like it could have been.
I stood with my hands in my pockets, waiting.
He wasn’t going to come out to meet the fans, I said to myself. He had so much else to do. I should leave.
I was 10 years old when I heard Gerald Albright’s music for the first time. Since that moment, I wanted to see him in concert and meet him, face to face. The passion he had for music was infectious and the way he always provided a new twist when he played live made me admire him even more. I respected him for his individuality in a music industry that often did not value such things. He was an original.
I was finally able to see him give an amazing performance. However, I still wanted to meet him; shake his hand and tell him that he was the reason for my love of the sax and that I was a player, too.
I waited for an hour before I was too cold to wait any longer. Feeling slightly rejected, I went across the street to a cafe. The cafe was well-lit and warm. As I entered, I took off my glasses to wipe off the fog and then I heard a voice say:
“I wondered if you were ever going to come inside”.
I put my glasses back on and looked up. Gerald Albright was sitting at the counter with a cup of coffee steaming in front of him. There was no one else in the place, except for the counterman. How he got across the street without anyone noticing, I will never know. I just stood there and could not remember my name.
“Sit down”, he said. “Let’s talk jazz”.