Even though Houston Person isn't, strictly speaking, a Texas tenor"--he hails from Florence, SC--the crafty veteran hits the mark in almost every other respect, from his clear and powerful sound to his unremitting propensity to brighten a melody and to swing under any and all conditions. On his latest album, Person, still marshaling all the right notes at age seventy-eight, is said to be taking it Nice 'n' Easy, but that's anyone's guess, as he makes what he does sound easy no matter how intense or heated the surroundings. While the spotlight shines brightest on the leading ...read more
Mom's meatloaf is wonderfully predictable. You always know what you're going to get, and after decades, you've come to rely on it. Why? Because there's something intimately reassuring about knowing that when you go back for more, it's the same as the last time. A recipe change would be simply unthinkable. It's comfort food. Oh, and by the way, it's delicious. Houston Person albums are like mom's meatloaf. There are never any surprises. The name on the cover announces a creamy tenor saxophone destined to play a mix of standards and ballads with the oddball pop cover thrown ...read more
Tenor saxophonist Houston Person's Moment to Moment begins with an instant nostalgia trip to the classic Blue Note Sessions of the 1960s. It should not come as any surprise, then, that this album was recorded in the legendary Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ by the man himself, Rudy Van Gelder--rarely a bad thing. The tenor and trumpet front line in the opener, Bleeker Street," would be at home on an old Donald Byrd or Tina Brooks record, with perhaps a bit more brio than has been heard on recent Person sets, as trumpeter Terell Stafford lends ...read more
Houston Person's Mellow could easily have been called Up Close and Personal." With dozens and dozens of recordings to his credit, it's just the latest in a long list of exemplary sets that always evidence the warmth of his tone and the directness of his tenor sax phrasing. Also mixed in as well is a funky R&B feeling. That is particularly noticeable on the bouncy Sunny" that opens the set. Everyone gets into a sweet heat, most notably when James Chirillo pungently strums his guitar, John DiMartino jumping in with emphatic piano. Ultimately Person wraps it all up with blazing, ...read more
Peter Hand Big BandThe Wizard of Jazz: A Tribute to Harold Arlen (feat. Houston Person)Savant2009 Nancy KellyWell, Alright!: Live! with Houston PersonSaying It With Jazz2009 Ernestine AndersonA Song For YouHighNote2008 As he continues on well into his 8th decade as the go-to tenor sax man, the always solid Houston Person remains a prolific and first-rate blues man. This latest trio of recordings attest to how effectively ...read more
The Art and Soul of Houston Person is an irresistible combination of the celebrated tenor saxophonist and the Great American Songbook. The 30 songs on this generous three-CD set were culled by Person from ten of his HighNote CDs, with the addition of four new songs recorded in spring, 2008. The songs feature an array of talented sidemen, including pianist Bill Charlap, bassists Ron Carter and Ray Drummond and drummer Grady Tate. If that isn't compelling enough, all the tracks were mixed, edited and mastered by the eminent Rudy Van Gelder in his legendary Englewood Cliffs studio. ...read more
Etta Jones/Houston Person Don't Misunderstand HighNote 2007 Houston Person Thinking of You HighNote 2007
Collaborations are ubiquitous in jazz. Legendary ones are rarer, but still existent. When one of the two talents involved passes away and is survived by the other, many listeners refuse to let go of the memory and hold every succeeding project to the standards set by the collaboration. Saxophonist Houston Person escapes this predicament, but barely, not ...read more
Charles Earland Black Talk! Fantasy 2006 Houston Person/Bill Charlap You Taught My Heart To Sing HighNote 2006
Black Talk! is a now-classic, funky 1969 session with Charles Earland as top man at the organ. A hit when it was originally released, Earland's driving percussive style here is quintessential organ-based soul jazz. Among his sidemen is the redoubtable Houston Person, whose tenor sax proved to be such a sympathetic hand in glove ...read more
Norman Simmons In Private HighNote 2005
Norman Simmons has been one of the most talented accompanying pianists for over fifty years, arranging and playing with instrumentalists Johnny Griffin and Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Ramsey Lewis, and singers Dakota Station, Ernestine Anderson, Carmen McRae, and Joe Williams, among many others. This recording, featuring bassist Lisle Atkinson and drummer Paul Humphrey, is appropriately titled because most of the songs were taped one late evening several years ago in the lobby of a hotel in Shinga, Japan, without an audience. The group's rendition of Stella ...read more
We met Houston Person in July at Estoril Jazz, the oldest jazz festival held in Portugal. He was due to play with Joey DeFrancesco but as the Hammond B3 player missed the show he jumped from guest to main attraction. Before the concert we had the chance to interview this much underrated tenor saxophonist and talk about his 40 years of jazz playing and his relationship with audiences all over the world.
All About Jazz: Is it different playing from one country to another?
Houston Person: Not really. I just like a good audience.
AAJ: Do ...read more
With an increasing emphasis on high-priced concert venues and large summer festivals, one forgets that for the longest time jazz resided in the not-quite-PC environment of the smoky bar. And while there's nothing wrong with jazz reaching a larger public through bigger venues, there's something about the ambience of a club that's lost in larger, more opulent settings. Hearing a great band in a club was always an event, but more intimate, more relaxed. Every now and then, though, an album comes along that evokes such a strong visual of those crowded rooms that all you have to do is ...read more
Houston Person is jazz' working class hero, a true man of the people. Person who was born in Newberry, South Carolina in 1934, first received moderate national attention with a series of soulful albums recorded for Prestige back in the '60s. In 1968 he began a sympathetic and successful musical partnership with the great Etta Jones that lasted over 30 years until her recent passing. A passionate tenor saxophonist, alternately tough and tender, Person's own talent was often overlooked because of his association with the phenomenal vocalist. He's only now beginning to receive the recognition he so richly deserves as ...read more
Houston Person is the kind of player who sounds a little bit like a lot of people, but in the end most like himself. His tone can be burly and robust, but warm and romantic above all. His tune selection demonstrates impeccable taste and a commitment to the time before people changed the rules. Social Call is the kind of CD that you hear on a good jazz station where the deep-voiced DJs credit each musician in admiration – and here, guitarist Paul Bollenback, pianist Stan Hope, bassist Per-Ola Gadd, and drummer Chip White bring skill and a sense of ...read more
Tough tenors were a staple diet for many jazz listeners in the 1960s. Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Stanley Turrentine, Arnett Cobb and so many others (the list could literally fill a ledger pages long) took ample measures of blues and soul-derived emotion and combined them with a no-nonsense emphasizing the tenor horn’s naturally sensual properties. While arguably not as well known, Houston Person belongs among their number. Fielding a sassy, vibrato-flecked tone and a biting, soulful lexicon of blues phrases the South Carolina native was custom tailored for the soul jazz market the Prestige brass had him ...read more
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