Houston Person – Rain Or Shine (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 56:48 minutes | 616 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds| Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © HighNote Records
The soulfully expressive tenor saxophonist, Houston Person learned his craft in the 1950s, a time when some of the earliest pioneers of jazz saxophone – Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster – were playing. Like Sonny Rollins and a handful of others, Person is an eloquent messenger who is rooted in traditional blues, church music, Broadway love songs and the mimicking of a singer’s tonal palette and phrasing. His blues feel led to a renaissance among acid-jazz clubbers years later, and his sound has become uniquely characterful: an idiosyncratic edit of all he has learned, expressed in shrugging hoots, briefly cantering bop sprints, spacious and softly blown ballads. With his long-time friend and colleague, cornetist Warren Vaché and guitarist Rodney Jones, Person’s burnished sophistication, assured elegance and poise are again on display giving listeners an object lesson in unfussy, no-gimmicks music-making.
In the liner notes, Houston Person says, “Few people get into this kind of groove these days.” So true. It is the sensual, slightly sweaty, blues-based groove they used to call soul-jazz. It was central to the jazz art form (and to its commercial viability) in the 1960s. But in our current eclectic, experimental era, it is a quaint niche. When you hear an authentic voice of the genre like Person, you remember how easy it is to like this music.
On the opening “Come Rain or Come Shine,” Person never leaves the melody. But the gruff warmth of his tenor saxophone turns the song’s extravagant promise into a credible truth of the heart. The earthy, romantic, nocturnal atmosphere is sustained even as tempos shift among slow (“I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone”) and very slow (“Everything Must Change”) and medium-funky (“Learnin’ the Blues”). The program contains standards, old R&B hits and lost gems like “132nd and Madison,” by the great unsung pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs. His tune, with its infectious vamps, operates in a narrow zone between sinful pleasure and gospel. Person’s solo walks that fine line.
The members of Person’s sextet all speak this rich musical language as their native tongue. They are cornetist Warren Vaché, guitarist Rodney Jones, pianist Lafayette Harris, bassist Matthew Parrish and drummer Vincent Ector. But it is the leader, now 83, who lights up this album, all the way to the closing “Danny Boy,” which will melt the hardest of hearts. Person’s tenor sound is so human, and he tells the song’s old story with such honest empathy. Who knew that “Danny Boy” was waiting for a final summation straight from the soul?
01 – Come Rain or Come Shine
02 – 132nd and Madison
03 – Everything Must Change
04 – Learnin’ the Blues
05 – I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone
06 – Soupbone
07 – Never Let Me Go
08 – Our Day Will Come
09 – Danny Boy
Produced by Houston Person. Engineered, Mixed & Mastered by Maureen Sickler.
Recorded on June 4, 2017 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Houston Person – tenor saxophone
Lafayette Harris – piano
Warren Vache – cornet on “1,2,4,6 & 8”
Rodney Jones – guitar on “1–6, 8 & 9”
Matthew Parrish – bass
Vincent Ector – drums