In the 1990s, Houston Person kept the soulful, thick-toned tenor tradition of Gene Ammons alive, particularly in his work with organists. After learning piano as a youth, Person switched to tenor. While stationed in Germany with the Army, he played in groups that also included Eddie Harris, Lanny Morgan, Leo Wright, and Cedar Walton. Person picked up valuable experience as a member of Johnny Hammond's group (1963-1966) and became a bandleader in the following years, often working with singer Etta Jones. A duo recording with Ran Blake was a nice change of pace, but most of Person's playing has been done with blues-oriented organ groups. He recorded a consistently excellent series of albums for Muse, eventually switching to HighNote Records for 2006's You Taught My Heart to Sing, 2007's Thinking of You, and 2008's Just Between Friends, which featured bassist Ron Carter. Released in 2012, Naturally, recorded at the famed Van Gelder Recording Studio, teamed Person with Cedar Walton on piano, Ray Drummond on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums. He quickly returned with the similarly inclined 2013 effort Nice 'n' Easy, followed a year later by The Melody Lingers On. Person then delivered the rootsy and soulful Something Personal in 2015. In 2016, the saxophonist once again paired with bassist Carter for the duo album Chemistry. The following year saw Person issue the soulful Rain or Shine, which marked his 50th year as a combo leader. After 2018's Remember Love, Person's sixth album of duets with Carter, he returned with the full-band set I'm Just a Lucky So and So. ~ Scott Yanow
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Bebop - Released November 15, 2002 | HighNote Records
As the 21st century began, Houston Person was one of the last in a tradition of tough-toned but warm tenors able to straddle the boundaries between soul-jazz, hard bop, and soulful R&B. An expert at caressing and uplifting melodies, Person plays in the tradition of Gene Ammons. Person is in excellent form throughout this quartet/quintet date with pianist Richard Wyands, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Grady Tate, and, on four of the nine selections, guitarist Russell Malone. In fact, the combination of Person and Malone works so well that hopefully someday they will record a full album together. All of the tunes are veteran standards, with Person particularly digging into "A Sunday Kind of Love," "It Had to Be You," "Black Velvet," and "Canadian Sunset." Houston Person has recorded many fine albums for High Note and its predecessor, Muse, through the years. Sentimental Journey is a strong example of his talents. ~ Scott Yanow
Bebop - Released March 18, 2005 | HighNote Records
It seems like every fall for the last ten years or so, jazz fans have been graced by the release of a new Houston Person record. The Texas tenor is one of the last men standing and 2005's All Soul shows he is standing as tall as ever. His gruff but inviting tone is steady and true, and a quick listen to the first track shows it hasn't dropped off at all. On the album he is joined by Eddie Allen on trumpet, Stan Hope on piano, Randy Johnston on guitar, Per-Ola Gadd on bass, and Chip White on drums for a mix of ballads and hard bop groovers. They back him quite ably on the arrangements, but it's hard not to wish Person took all the solos, especially when Allen and Johnston reel off technically proficient but soul-less solos (in comparison to Person anyway). Person as usual positively bleeds heart and soul on the ballads like "All Soul" and "Let It Be Me," which he effortlessly rescues from cheesiness, and romps through the up-tempo tracks like Hank Mobley's "Bossa for Baby," his own very Art Blakey-sounding "Why Not," and the loping "2 Rb's." The best moments of all come on Person's solos during a spirited take on Percy Mayfield's classic "Please Send Me Someone to Love," where you can picture him walking the bar and sending a packed club into an uproar as he reaches deeper into his soul and spills it all out. Too bad the proceedings come back down to earth when the other soloists take over, but then that is the nature of this record and so many like it that feature giants like Person. You have to wait out the chaff to get to the wheat. On All Soul the waiting is well worth it. ~ Tim Sendra
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