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Soul - Released February 3, 2018 | Ace Records

Houston Person followed Bob Porter from Prestige to Westbound but before the tenor saxophonist could cut his first record for his new label Porter left Westbound, leaving Person on his own to produce '75. Originally titled '74 -- a title also given to a bunch of other Westbound jazz albums -- '75 was cut with an anonymous bunch of Detroit session musicians and it could be argued that the album itself is somewhat anonymous, finding the saxophonist aiming straight for the R&B charts. Always a full-bodied, groove-oriented player, this straight-up soul isn't much of a stretch for Person but the rhythms are frequently funkier than in the past and the surface is certainly slicker, sounding so clean it's almost possible to see your reflection in it. Often, the album is better when it doubles down on this gauche sound, such as the discotheque spangle of "500 Gin Rummy," cop-show funk of "A Touch of Bad Stuff," or satin seduction of "All in Love Is Fair." These are the tracks that show how stiff the cover of "Shotgun" is, and while they're certainly not for purists, they provide a good time capsule of the smooth but funky sounds of 1975. Person didn't straighten out his soul-jazz on Get Out'a My Way!, something that the very name of its opening cut makes plain. Called "Disco Sax," it's a bit of a Van McCoy hustle, complete with anonymous backup singers insisting that we should listen to the disco sax, and it sets the tone for a record that happily rides every mid-'70s trend they could find. Usually, this means some variation on disco -- even with its fuzz-toned Isley guitars, "Ain't Nothin' But a Funky Song" leans more toward the dancefloor than a funk workout -- but there's also a fair amount of exceptionally smooth romantic material that functions as the cool flip side of the disco workouts that take up the rest of the record. Although these period threads do have their charms, Get Out'a My Way! can get quite silly -- with its not quite herky-jerky rhythms and cooing background vocals, "Spread It" is the pinnacle of goofiness -- which is why it's ultimately not quite as satisfying a groove album as its Westbound companion, but anybody with a yen for exceptionally polished funky soul-jazz of the mid-'70s should find it worth a spin. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine