Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Houston Person - NYC Jazz Record

Houston Person - So Nice

Since the mid ‘90s honey-toned tenor saxophonist
Houston Person has been doling out swinging discs for
the High Note label with stunning regularity. On this,
his 16th record since the beginning of that relationship,
he is in fine form with an acoustic ensemble guided by
a rock-solid rhythm section (pianist John Di Martino,
bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Lewis Nash).

The album opens with Shirley Scott’s “Blues
Everywhere” serving as a meet-and-greet for the
album’s featured soloists. Aside from the bass and
drums everyone gets a couple choruses of blues to
introduce themselves before segueing into the
Ellington ballad “All Too Soon”, which features gentle
prodding from guitarist Howard Alden behind Warren
Vaché’s languid cornet. Much like his take on the other
ballads (“Kiss and Run”, “Easy Living”) Person
delivers a solo full of whispered patience and simple
elegance. The title track opens with a brief statement
from Di Martino before trombonist Mark Patterson
steps in to drop an articulate and rousing solo over
Elmo Hope’s changes. Burt Bacharach’s “Close to You”
goes in a completely different direction from the
Carpenters hit. The track opens with just Person and
Drummond before the rest of the rhythm section jumps
in with Nash’s cymbal driving everyone towards a
swinging take on what is usually a rather sappy radio
staple. The album closes with Di Martino and Person
quietly tying together a Sondheim medley: Di Martino
tackles “Small World” alone and with great restraint
before Person steps in with a breathy “Anyone Can
Whistle” that floats to a gentle close.

With 12 songs in just under an hour Person
provides exactly what the title offers - a solid outing
from a musician with no score to settle, just a desire to
play a subdued set with a handful of indispensable
friends, as nicely as promised.

Houston Person @ NYC Jazz Record

No comments: