|Houston Person (Photo: Gene Martin)|
The recent Down Beat review somehow put me in the mood to dust off my favorite CD by Person, A Little Houston on the Side (Savoy Jazz), which contains a cross-section of his work for the Muse label between the 1970s and the 1990s. There isn't a single superfluous track on this compilation, and the first two tunes already make it clear that Person's music is deeply rooted in the blues—"Walking the Dog" is a standout, with Jack McDuff on organ and Ron Bridgewater engaging in some inventive tenor dialogues with Person, and "Late Night Lullaby," a Person original, is an irresistible slice of mid-tempo blues. Person tips his hat to John Coltrane with a reading of Trane's "Equinox" that proves he also feels comfortable within the framework of hard bop, and Sonny Rollins's "Blue Seven" is a duet between Person and bassist Ron Carter, who collaborated on quite a few sides for the Muse label. There's also room for ballads, such as "I Remember Clifford" and "My Romance"—in the former Person sounds breathy and sweet, while on the latter his approach is much more passionate and vibrant. Charles Brown appears on vocals on "Sweet Slumber" and, of course, Person's longtime partner, Etta Jones, handles the singing on a lovely version of "Laughing at Life." Other musicians that accompany the tenorist on these 11 selections include, among others, Richard "Groove" Holmes and Joey DeFrancesco (organ), Red Callender and Milt Hinton (bass), and Grady Tate and Kenny Washington (drums). Without a doubt, this is one of the best collections currently available for anyone interested in getting acquainted with the magnificent music of Houston Person.