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 Gelderrarely 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 a welcome foil to Person's big, mellow sound.
Those expecting a deeply relaxed, background-music affair may be in for a mild surprise. Person hasn't suddenly become a hyper-aggressive free-jazz screamer, but the disc opens at a quick pace and returns to it periodically throughout. On the very blue "I Cover the Waterfront," Stafford blows with a deep, burnished, warmth through the middle of his horn's range, an effort that emphasizes the tonal colors of his instrument, and the melancholy of the tune. While the inclusion of a more recent pop tune, Billy Joel's, "Just the Way You Are," might seem like one of those odd, sometimes controversial genre-bending selections evocative of "Lite-FM" sentimentalism, it ultimately adds a little bounce to the middle of the record, bringing the tempo back up to speed.
Of course, no Person disc would be complete without a heavy dose of ballads and blues, and Moment to Moment does not break a good streak. "Back in New Orleans" delivers a strong measure of Crescent City, and "Love Won't Let Me Wait," is a classic ballad that sounds like it was written to showcase that Person's creamy tenor sound.
Moment to Moment has everything to be expected in a Houston Person album, then adding a little bit more, making it another fine entry in Person's string of excellent HighNote releases.
Bleeker Street; I Cover the Waterfront; Moment to Moment; Freight Dance;
Don't Take Your Love From Me; E Nada Mais; Just the Way You Are; Back in New Orleans; All My Life; Love Won't Let Me Wait; Nina Never Knew.
Houston Person: tenor saxophone; Terell Stafford: trumpet; John Di Martino: piano; Randy Johnston: guitar (1, 5-8, 10, 11); Ray Drummond: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.
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