The Al Wright Unit featuring vocalist Ruth Wright brings both homegrown cred and a space-trekking sonic legacy back to the Red Bank Public Library on Thursday evening. (Photos courtesy of Red Bank Public Library)
By TOM CHESEK
“In New Jersey there’s a place with much to offer, much to proffer, called Red Bank” from “Red Bank II,” lyrics by Al Wright
We first happened upon the Al Wright Unit some twenty years ago, back in the original Monmouth Street location of the old House of Coffee and we found the chamber-jazz combo a flavorful way to chase a ‘ccino. There was Mr. Wright, cutting a dapper figure as the elegant suit-and-tie standup skinsman, with vocalist wife Ruth Wright bringing some classically cool phrasing to a set that spotlighted a healthy number of original compositions.
When the 21st- century edition of the Unit (Ruth, Al and keyboardist Greg Murphy) returns to the Red Bank Public Library tomorrow evening for the latest in a semiannual series of free performances, the drummer and bandleader will do more than pay customary tribute to the town where he’s lived his whole life. He’ll be tapping into a whole other, cosmically amazing legacy that many of his longtime neighbors might not be aware of.