Houston Person: Having a Good Time
“ I like travelling a lot and playing for different people and different cultures. I'm having a good time. ”
All About Jazz: Is it different playing from one country to another?
Houston Person: Not really. I just like a good audience.
AAJ: Do you think we have a good audience in Portugal?
HP: Oh yeah! Yeah. That's what I like: a good audience. And you find good audiences all over the world.
AAJ: Where have you been playing in Europe?
HP: Last week I was in Switzerland and next week I go to the North Sea Jazz Festival.
AAJ: Is there more or less work in jazz now than 10 years ago?
HP: Well, there is always a lot of work. Those musicians that play music that's accessible to the audience will work. That's the way it is.
AAJ: You never had a problem with having work?
AAJ: Do you agree with the people that say you are underrated as a tenor saxophonist?
HP: It doesn't bother me. I just keep working. That's my proof. My calendar is full through May of next year. That's what I go by.
AAJ: As a jazz musician how is your life like? Do you play all the year long?
HP: I play all the time. I used to balance my time between travelling and at home but now I'm traveling way more than I'm working home.
AAJ: Where are you currently living?
HP: New York.
AAJ: Do you still play in the clubs?
HP: Oh yeah!
AAJ: What do you think of the new generation of tenor saxophone players?
HP: Ohhhh! I like them all, really, I really do. Some get more recognition than others. But there are some great guys out there playing. I sort of like them all.
AAJ: What about this band that plays with you tonight?
HP: They've been with me for about 20 years.
AAJ: What is it for you the reason to keep playing after all these years? Do you still get real pleasure from playing?
HP: Oh yeah! I like travelling a lot and playing for different people and different cultures. I'm having a good time.
AAJ: Have you ever felt any sort of racial discrimination in Europe?
AAJ: And back in the USA?
HP: No. Just no more than the normal routine. Nothing really over.
AAJ: Who are the people that buy your records? Black or white people?
HP: A mixture. Everybody.
AAJ: We understand in Europe that in the USA black people are not going to jazz shows anymore. Is that correct?
HP: I don't think that. No. No, no. I don't know who said that... I have large black audiences. It's according to what you are playing, what you present to the audience. I have a vast repertoire of songs so I have no problem with that. I have all kinds of people coming to my shows.
AAJ: For how many years have you been playing?
AAJ: Is there a difference between when you started and now?
HP: Yeah, I hope I'm better! (laughs)
AAJ: (laughs) I mean't in the business?
HP: Well, musicians are taken care better when they travel. That's good. I like that.
HP: I don't know! We'll see where the audience drives me and we will go from there. It's a wide range of things. We do standards, blues, jazz standards, all kind of stuff. We'll see what the audience wants.
AAJ: Some people say we can't get much more from the old standards. Do you agree?
AAJ: What can we get from them? Can you still sound new and fresh on them?
HP: Yeah, one thing we can get is playing the melody. A lot of people who say that don't know the melodies. Not true at all.
AAJ: René Marie said to DownBeat that she is through with the standards, that they just don't thrill her anymore and don't allow her to express creatively...
HP: Well, let's see how much she works... I hope she is successful. We'll see.
AAJ: Who is the best jazz musician you have played with so far?
HP: So many! A lot. I could name anybody, really. A lot of good musicians.
AAJ: What are the milestones of your career?
HP: When I recorded with Lena Horne and when I recorded with Horace Silver.
AAJ: Do you still listen to jazz at home?
AAJ: You buy records?
HP: I'm a record collector.
AAJ: Do you remember the last one you bought?
HP: No, I don't remember. Gee! I can't remember.
AAJ: And besides jazz do you listen to other music?
HP: Everything. I like Brazilian music, I really like that, when they sing with the Portuguese language because they can really sing in bossa. I like country and western, I like the blues, I like the rhythm and blues.
AAJ: You have a lot of blues in your phrasing...
HP: Yeah, I grew up with the blues.
AAJ: Which records would you reccommend to someone who wants to start listening to jazz?
HP: Hmmmm, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Milt Jackson, Stan Getz... And they all play standards so that's a good way to be introduced.
AAJ: When will you have a new record out in the market?
HP: In September.
AAJ: Waht's the title?
HP: All Soul.
AAJ: What can we expect from it?
HP: It's more linked to the blues and it's real hard jazz.
AAJ: What about the record Social Call, why did you choose that title?
HP: It's just a song written by Gigi Gryce. It's such a good song and I wanted to pay a tribute to him by naming the album after his song.
Selected Discography as a Leader:
All Soul (HighNote, 2005)
To Etta, With Love (HighNote, 2004)
Social Call (HighNote, 2003)
Sentimental Journey (HighNote, 2002)
Blue Velvet (HighNote, 2001)
In a Sentimental Mood (HighNote, 2000)
Together at Christmas (HighNote, 2000)
Soft Lights (HighNote, 1999)
My Romance (HighNote, 1998)
Island Episode (Prestige, 1997)
Person-ified (HighNote, 1997)