Albums

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Bebop - Released November 10, 2017 | HighNote Records

Booklet
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Bebop - Released June 17, 2016 | HighNote Records

Booklet
Saxophonist Houston Person and bassist Ron Carter have a duo partnership that goes back at least as far as their two 1990 recordings, Something in Common and Now's the Time! Since those albums, the legendary artists have released several more duo collaborations, each one a thoughtful and minimalist production showcasing their masterful command of jazz standards, blues, and bop. The duo's 2016 effort, the aptly titled Chemistry, is no exception and once again finds Person and Carter communing over a well-curated set of jazz standards. As on their previous albums, Chemistry is a deceptively simple conceit; just two jazz journeymen playing conversational duets on well-known jazz songs. At face value, that is certainly what you get. The deception enters into the equation with just how masterful and nuanced Person and Carter are in each song. Whether it's the way Carter anchors the duo's yearning reading of "But Beautiful" with his languorous, doomy basslines, or the way Person's languorous rubato introduction joins up with Carter on "Fools Rush In," they never fail to find surprising and deeply emotive ways to interpret each song. Similarly, cuts like the poignant "Blame It on My Youth" and the dewy-eyed "I Can't Get Started" are endearing romantic numbers that cradle the listener in the warmth of Person and Carter's warm tones. Elsewhere, they deliver a gleeful version of Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk," and summon the memory of Carter's former boss, trumpeter Miles Davis, with their jaunty take on "Bye Bye Blackbird." Ultimately, Chemistry is a lovely, heartfelt album of well-loved standards imbued with the duo's decades of experience. ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released October 23, 2015 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released October 21, 2014 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released September 23, 2014 | Savant

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Bebop - Released October 22, 2013 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released March 26, 2013 | Savant

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Bebop - Released October 9, 2012 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released October 11, 2011 | HighNote Records

Houston Person is a very versatile veteran tenor saxophonist who tends to get overlooked in critics' polls, yet his extensive musical resumé is ample proof that he is a jazz master. This 2011 session ranges from a duet to septet, with everyone playing compact solos, keeping all but one under the six-minute mark, a lost art in modern jazz. The rhythm section includes pianist John Di Martino (who regularly works with the leader), bassist Ray Drummond, and drummer Lewis Nash (whose respective resumés are likely as long as Person's), seven-string guitarist Howard Alden, plus cornetist Warren Vaché and trombonist Mark Patterson. Two less familiar jazz works stand out. The disc opens with the full septet playing a snappy rendition of Shirley Scott's "Blues Everywhere," with Person, Vaché, Patterson, Alden, and Di Martino all featured. Elmo Hope's "So Nice" is a perfect example of a midtempo bop gem, with a beautifully understated solo by Di Martino, Patterson's expressive chops, and the leader's buoyant, soulful tenor. There are several standards, including a richly textured "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" with Patterson's muted horn providing the perfect follow-up to Person's mellow opening statement, while the lush "Easy Living" suggests a late-night romantic atmosphere. The solo spotlight is equally shared by Vaché and Person in the shimmering, deliberate treatment of Duke Ellington's gorgeous "All Too Soon." Ironically, the longest track is a sensitive duet by Person and Di Martino, exploring a pair of Stephen Sondheim's show tunes, "Small World" and "Anyone Can Whistle." Highly recommended. ~ Ken Dryden
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Bebop - Released October 5, 2010 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released October 23, 2009 | HighNote Records

Not all mellow, Houston Person's tribute to the softer side of jazz has its moments based on the laid-back timbre of his soul rather than a program consisting of only ballads. The tenor sax he wields certainly reflects the tradition established by Ben Webster in its soul-drenched tone, but is not as vocally pronounced or vibrato-driven. The quite capable pianist John Di Martino is the one whose more enunciated notions are harnessed, while tasteful guitar by the underrated James Chirillo rings out in acceptance of Person's embraceable hues. In a program of standards and two blues jams, Person rounds into shape this quintet of true professionals to render themes that are harder to play slow than fast. The slower material includes the regretful, throaty ballad "Too Late Now," the totally restrained "To Each His Own," a poignant "Two Different Worlds," and the deep, mature take of "God Bless the Child." Ever cognizant of blue moods, Person is masterful in expressing his innermost heartfelt feelings, as on the easy swinger and obvious choice for this date, Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone." Then there's "Blues in the A.M.," a basic jam with Ray Drummond's bass leading out with drummer Lewis Nash in an uptown style as Chirillo's guitar states its wise, sophisticated case. The most upbeat number is the closer, the fast hard bop three-minute quickie "Lester Leaps In," while in midtempo form, the opener, Bobby Hebb's "Sunny," is a typical choice. Conversely, the usual ballad "Who Can I Turn To?" is a bit amped up. Di Martino and Chirillo are known to kick things up several notches, but here are great tastemakers who fully understand Person's persona and growing importance as one who prefers an understated approach. That's not to say this marvelous tenor saxophonist has depreciated his talent as an adept technician, but at this point in his career he prefers this music on the mellow side, and has no problem staying interested in that mood, no matter the tempo. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Bebop - Released September 29, 2009 | Savant

Through three fine recordings, jazz vocalist Pamela Luss has stayed the course singing standards in her own inimitable, alluring fashion. Blessed with a solid vocal instrument that at-times wavers with a girlish fascination for pure or unrequited love, Luss gives it another go on this, her fourth album, backed up by Houston Person's working band featuring the excellent pianist John DiMartino, and at times guitarist James Chirillo. The lust Luss is able to conjure is hard to resist, as she stands tall and lean among these well-known songs, interpreted with just a dash of sass, a large portion of confidence, a slight vibrato, and an at-times lissome eye toward a hopeful future. Person works well with most singers (i.e. Etta Jones) but here he seems to feed off of the vocal lines Luss dishes out. They're clearly having fun trading phrases on occasion, or in retort when the vocalist makes statements like the come-and-run-away ballad "You Better Go Now," the light bossa nova take of "Can't Get Out Of This Mood," or the sensual, samba-tinged "You Belong to Me." Chirillo is particularly tasteful on the five numbers where he's added on, strumming like the seasoned Freddie Greene during "Nice & Easy," and diving into the shuffle "Teardrops from My Eyes" - more of this one please Ms. Luss! DiMartino is also the arranger of these selections, increasing the sophistication of tracks like the temptation calypso "Canadian Sunset," controlling the swing factor of "Star Eyes," or enhancing a bluesy feeling to "Why Was I Born?". Perhaps the single track where Luss comes a bit out of her comfort zone is the playful "Don'tcha Go Away Mad," always a tongue-in-cheek favorite, as those asking for forgiveness while looking for an amicable exit from confrontation can relate to. This is a good combination of vocalist and backup band, one that could, at some point in time, explore a more down-home blues approach. While hers is a voice that does take some getting used to, she's refining her method with each recording, becoming a true professional interpreter of the tried-and-true American popular songbook.
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Bebop - Released September 8, 2009 | HighNote Records

The Art & Soul of Houston Person is a unique compilation. The great saxophonist has recorded as a leader for labels such as Prestige, 20th Century, Muse, Savant, and is currently with High Note, where this appears. His tenure at Prestige is the only one longer than this one. As such, this massive, three-disc collection is drawn from a dozen High Note albums cut in as many years. The unifying factor in these cuts is that they were not chosen randomly to include simply stellar performances, but from his wide-ranging interpretations on standards; in addition, they were all recorded by Rudy Van Gelder at his studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. There are 30 performances in all, including four that open disc one which are all new takes on tunes he'd tracked previously, but this time out with his current quartet of pianist John di Martino, bassist Jon Burr, and drummer Jerome Jennings. Some of the other players on this comp include pianists Bill Charlap, Stan Hope, and Richard Wyands, bassists Ray Drummond, Ron Carter, Per-Ola Gadd, Peter Washington, and George Kaye, drummers Grady Tate, Chip White, and Kenny Washington, and guitarists Russell Malone and Paul Bollenback. The readings of these tunes make for a very unified collection because no matter who the personnel are and what gifts they bring to the table, Person has a way of playing songs that not only retain their melody, but their melodic integrity; his is simply not interested in employing them as frameworks for showboat improvisation. His own inventiveness is in how warm and dignified a melodist he is. He sings through the horn with the emotional commitment of Ben Webster, the soul of Gene Ammons, and the studied elegance of Paul Quinichette and Frank Wess. Listeners will have a great time picking their favorites out of this morass of excellent material, but it is safe to say that Person makes virtually all of it compelling -- there isn't a dull second here. Whether it's "Sentimental Journey,"and "All The Things You Are," or "Blue Moon" and "Mack the Knife," these sides are drenched in classy sophistication and down-home soul. Highly recommended. ~ Thom Jurek
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Bebop - Released June 16, 2009 | Savant

Guitarist/arranger Peter Hand assembled a big band for this concert, stocking it with a number of well-known veterans, but featuring tenor saxophonist Houston Person prominently. The program consists of seven songs by the legendary Harold Arlen, starting with an easygoing, bluesy take of "Come Rain or Come Shine" showcasing Person, Hand, and pianist Richard Wyands, with some potent writing for the horns to accompany it. The poignant ballad "The Man That Got Away" is an overlooked gem in Arlen's vast output, with a heartfelt solo by Person, while the tenor saxophonist communicates the words with his effective playing of "Stormy Weather," backed by Hand's inspired voicings for the brass and reeds. The one medley of the evening is a departure from the Arlen songbook, a medley of spirited blues by Person and Hand. To wrap the evening, Houston Person plays a lush, unaccompanied solo of "Over the Rainbow" to bring down the house. ~ Ken Dryden
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Bebop - Released January 27, 2009 | HighNote Records

It is hard to believe that Ernestine Anderson was within a few months of her eightieth birthday at the time of this 2008 session, but she shows the wisdom of a veteran vocalist in her interpretations of this collection of standards, ballads, and pop songs, often proving that less is indeed more. Well complemented by tenor saxophonist Houston Person (who was an important presence on so many of the late vocalist Etta Jones' albums), pianist LaFayette Harris, bassist Chip Jackson, and drummer Willie Jones, Anderson sings with a confidence that makes each song sound like a first take. She masters the catchy midtempo setting of "Make Someone Happy," a piece often played painfully slow in order to get a sense of drama, but her upbeat treatment is a fine alternative. She knows how to sing a ballad, demonstrated in her richly textured and soulful rendition of the timeless "Skylark." She is equally at home with pop material like Leon Russell's "A Song for You" and her superb, very deliberate take of "Candy," with soulful fills inserted by Person. This is a potent effort by a singer who remains very much in her prime. ~ Ken Dryden
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Bebop - Released May 6, 2008 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released September 21, 2007 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released August 24, 2007 | HighNote Records

Since the early 1950s, Horace Silver has been one of jazz's most distinctive pianists and composers. Several of his songs have become jazz standards. While Silver is in retirement as of this writing, fortunately he is able to enjoy knowing that his songs are regularly played by both his contemporaries and later generations of jazz musicians. This High Note CD reissues performances of Silver's songs that were recorded between 1997-2006 for records led by organist Charles Earland, tenor saxophonist Houston Person, organist Joey DeFrancesco, trumpeter Russell Gunn, and drummer Joe Chambers. While there is nothing previously unreleased on this CD, listeners who enjoy the works of Silver and do not own the complete High Note sets will find much to enjoy. The Charles Earland performances of "Sister Sadie," "Blowing the Blues Away," and "Strollin'" are particularly exciting and show once again why he was known as "The Mighty Burner." ~ Scott Yanow
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Bebop - Released March 15, 2007 | Savant

Pamela Luss' Your Eyes seems to feature two distinctive singers in one. On the midtempo material, Luss shows that she is a superior jazz singer, whether being sensual on "Baby, Don't You Quit Now," finding surprising life in a faster than usual "Over the Rainbow," or swinging on "Our Day Will Come." However, on ballads, her renditions are mostly very straight, closer to cabaret and even light pop than jazz, as if she is fearful of straying from the lyrics and the melody line for more than a moment. Quite a few of the younger jazz-inspired singers have difficulty making ballads their own and finding ways to improvise on slower material while also paying respect to the songwriters' intent. Luss' ballad renditions are listenable but not at all adventurous, and one wonders why "Send in the Clowns" was revived for the umpteenth time. On the plus side are four guest appearances apiece from tenor great Houston Person and altoist Aaron Heick, while Hendrik Meurkens is featured on harmonica on one of the few ballads that works on this set, "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye." Overall, this is a mixed bag. ~ Scott Yanow
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Bebop - Released August 1, 2006 | HighNote Records