The "Rudy's" in the title of tenor saxophonist Houston Person's album, Reminiscing at Rudy's, is not a nightclub or other such venue but the New Jersey studio of celebrated recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder who died in 2016. As befits reminiscing, the bulk of the album's numbers are tender ballads, every one of which lands squarely in Person's amorous wheelhouse.
That is not to say the veteran tenor saxophone maestrowho has recorded almost seventy albums as leader of his own groups- -is not comfortable or creative at other tempos, as he shows, for example, on Cole Porter's medium-paced "At Long Last Love," Henry Mancini's usually placid "Moon River" (presented here as a danceable foxtrot) and his own well-grooved finale, "Reminiscing at Rudy's." The truth is, Person is relaxed and confident in any milieu; he simply has a fondness for sensuous and warm-hearted love songs, and summons forth the utmost warmth and affection each of them has to offer.
As usual, Person is supported by a blue-chip rhythm section whose members are guitarist Russell Malone, pianist Larry Fuller, bassist Matthew Parrish and drummer par excellence Lewis Nash who even sings possibly a first for him, at least on recordon Marvin Fisher's "Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You," which was written for another pretty fair vocalist, Nat King Cole. While he is clearly no Colenor would he claim to beNash's smooth, even-tempered baritone is surprisingly good. He may have hit upon an unforeseen side gig.
Even though he is the session's unequivocal guiding light, Person gives everyone a chance to shine, and there are perceptive solos along the way by Fuller, Parrish and Malone, whose easygoing designs mirror Person's and enhance the group's fraternal mood. The most welcome ballad in these quarters is Lionel Newman's too-seldom-heard "Again," an exquisite melody first sung by Ida Lupino in the 1948 film noir, Roadhouse. The others include Paul Anka's "Put Your Head on My Shoulder," Herbert Martin's "Why Did I Choose You," Rodgers and Hart's "My Romance," Cedar Walton's "I'll Let You Know" and Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love."
Person, now nearing his eighty-eighth year, shows no sign of slowing down, playing with the awareness and unerring mastery of someone many years his junior. To put it another way, he is simply quite good at what he does, and what he has been doing for most of his adult life. Reminiscing at Rudy's is yet another melodic milestone in Person's long and impressive career.
At Long Last Love; Again; Moon River; Put Your Head on My Shoulder; Why Did I Choose
You; Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You; My Romance; I’ll Let You Know; Please Send
Me Someone to Love; Reminiscing at Rudy’s.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.