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Houston Person: Truth!

Douglas Payne By

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Despite his Gene Ammons influence, tenor sax man Houston Person has long had his own deep and soulfully growling tone on tenor, whether grooving on blues and boogaloos or exploring ballads with expert sensitivity. Lately, he seems to concentrate exclusively - and beautifully - on ballads. But on the two sessions coupled for this, his second in Prestige's "Legends of Acid Jazz" series, he explores both sides with equal affection.

Between 1966 and 1973, Person made a dozen records for Prestige, alternating straight-ahead piano groups with funkier organ-based groups. The two included here, Person's fifth, Soul Dance (1968), and seventh, The Truth! (1970), are organ-based. Neither stand out much. But they offer Person's patented soulful groove and lovely, sensitive reading of ballads.

Underrated guitarist Boogaloo Joe Jones offers Person's quartet something of an edge on the first half of Soul Dance, using his unique sound to make things a shade more interesting. Jones is especially well suited to this soulful environment and during brief spotlight passages offers some finger-licking funk to "Snake Eyes," "Groovin' And A-Groovin" and "Soul Dance" and well-considered commentary on ballads "Never Let Me Go," and "What a Difference A Day Made." Person, as expected, delivers the goods.

By the Truth!, the vamps become a little bluesier, but a bit more repetitive and monotonous too. Here, Person is in a Prestige studio sextet featuring the tenor player's longtime keyboardist Sonny Phillips on organ and Billy Butler on guitar. Person sounds large and in charge and Butler's guitar adds a rockish groove. Phillips, always a better rhythm player than a soloist or composer, keeps things chugging along. The CD does not allow for the LP's "If I Ruled The World" to be included here, but it's probably not missed either. Person's fans will still appreciate that this music is available for the first time in over two decades.

Songs:Snake Eyes; Never Let Me Go; Groovin' and A-Groovin'; What a Diff'rence a Day Made; Soul Dance; Here's That Rainy Day; Teardrops from My Eyes; Blue 7; Cissy Strut; On the Avenue; Wadin'; Pulpit; For Your Love.

Players:Houston Person: tenor sax; Billy Gardner, Sonny Phillips: organ; Boogaloo Joe Jones, Billy Butler: guitar; Bob Bushnell: electric bass; Frankie Jones: drums; Buddy Caldwell: conga.

| Record Label: Prestige Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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