Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Houston Person - The Art and Soul of Houston Person (High Note, 2009)

Soulful and melodic tenor saxophonist Houston Person has had a lengthy career in the basics of classic jazz: blues, ballads and bop. This three disc set tracks the highlights (and some new recordings) from his tenure for High Note Records, with whom he has recorded with for the past fifteen years. Many different sidemen appear on the material including Bill Charlap, Ron Carter, Russell Malone, Grady Tate and Ray Drummond. I found this to be a really nice set to set on shuffle play late in the evening when I am reading, the music is full of patience and deep emotion, and Person injects his own personality and sound into the music. This collection focuses on his interpretation of standards from the Great American Songbook, leading off with a nice mid-tempo swinging version of "You Do Something to Me." His calm and thoughtful interpretation of ballads is the highlight of the collection, with the standard ballads "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance" and "Skylark" making a dignified and thoughtful statement. He has the classic deep toned and dignified tone in his instrumental playing as fellow travelers like Stanley Turrentine and a deep and inspiring feel on ballads inspired by greats like Johnny Hodges and Lester Young. Three discs of soulful ballads and mid-tempo swing might be a little too much. but this is a nice set to dip into when the mood hits and you want to listen to something that is relaxing without being overly saccharine.