Houston Person with the John Toomey Trio at Old Dominion University

Mark Robbins By

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Dizzy Gillespie said of Houston Person, "He's one of the best... He's got bull chops!" Those "bull chops" got quite a workout when Person visited Old Dominion University as the guest performer of the F. Ludwig Diehn Concert Series. The tenor saxophonist arrived early in the week to preside over a series of master classes as well as rehearsing and performing with the Old Dominion Jazz Choir and Jazz Orchestra.

To cap off his week Person performed with the John Toomey Trio (Toomey on piano, Jimmy Masters on bass and another special guest, Chuck Redd on drums). The quartet played an eclectic collection of standards, pop, blues, bop and soul with 84 year old Person standing front and center blowing as hard as someone half is age! There is a story that Ben Webster, while playing a ballad in a club, stopped mid-song and told his sidemen and the audience, "I forgot the lyrics!." It is evident from his lush and emotional playing that Person knows the lyrics to every song he plays. He is never in a hurry whether he's playing or sitting out while is sidemen stretch out their solos. The music takes him on a journey that the audience is lucky enough to travel with him.
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