The Art and Soul of Houston Person – Houston Person, sax – High Note (3 CD compilation set)

by | Sep 21, 2008 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

The Art and Soul of Houston Person – Houston Person, sax – High Note (3 CD compilation set) – HCD 7200, CD 1:52:51, CD 2: 54:33, CD 3: 55:20   *****:

(Including: Richard Wyands, Stan Hope, Bill Charlap, and John diMartino, piano; Russell Malone and Paul Bollenback, guitar; Jon Burr, Ray Drummond, Peter Washington, Ron Carter, bass; Kenny Washington, Grady Tate, Jerome Jennings, Chip White, drums)

Though the Christmas holidays are over three months away, I’d suggest you set some coin away in your slush fund for a gift for yourself, the 3 CD compilation, recently released by High Note, honoring the old school tenor genius of Houston Person. It passes all the tests of a must-buy – superb sonics – mixed, edited, and recorded by the incomparable Rudy Van Gelder; thirty tracks hand selected by Person himself and featuring compositions from the greatest songwriters of the popular jazz songbook-Porter, Kern, Ellington, Rodgers, etc.

We have so few old school tenor players still active that can bring to mind ballad masters such as Ben Webster and Gene Ammons. Person is one of the chosen few still around that can wring all the emotion out of the Great American Songbook. Houston has the class, the warm vibrato, and the breathy delivery to put a smile on your face, a tear to your eye, and a tap to your feet.  The man drips soul in his delivery, and never showboats. Just as Hank Jones never wastes a note and leaves space for the song’s melody to sink in, Houston Person does just the same.

Being backed by the class of artists such as Richard Wyands, Bill Charlap, Ray Drummond, Peter Washington, Ron Carter, Grady Tate, and Kenny Washington makes Person’s task so effortless. I can’t say enough about how well the bass is miked and how Van Gelder presents its warm burnished tone. You’d swear that Houston and his rhythm sections are in your listening room.

Not all the 30 tracks are from previous High Note issues made over the last twelve years. The opening four songs are new takes from previously recorded issues of: You Do Something to Me, I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance, You’re a Sweetheart, and Maybe You’ll Be There. These were recorded this past May.

Hearing Houston emote on the warhorse My Funny Valentine is nearly worth the cost of the entire box set. Each song is a treasure to savor, however. All you have to do, dear listener, is turn down the lights, sit in your favorite easy chair, crank up the volume a bit and be prepared to be moved. Old School sax mastery is alive still. God bless Houston Person….


Disc 1:

1. You Do Something to Me
2. I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance
3. You’re a Sweetheart
4. Maybe You’ll Be There
5. All the Things You Are
6. You’re My Everything
7. Skylark
8. I Only Have Eyes for You
9. Everything I Have Is Yours
10. Wonder Why

Disc 2:
1. Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me
2. Here’s That Rainy Day
3. Isn’t It Romantic?
4. Fools Rush In
5. It Had to Be You
6. But Beautiful
7. For All We Know
8. Blue Moon
9. Bewitched
10. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Disc 3:
1. Sentimental Journey
2. Where Are You?
3. There’s a Small Hotel
4. Tenderly
5. Be My Love
6. It Might as Well Be Spring
7. My Funny Valentine
8. Gentle Rain
9. Mack the Knife
10. Very Thought of You

– Jeff Krow

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