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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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HOUSTON PERSON with BILL CHARLAP

You Taught My Heart To Sing

HighNote HCD 7134

 

 


1. You Taught My Heart to Sing

2. Namely You
3. Where Are You
4. Sweet Lorraine
5. If I Ruled the World
6. S'Wonderful  7. Where Is Love 
8. I Was Telling Her About You 
9. Don't Forget the Blues 
10. I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone 


Houston Person – Tenor sax
Bill Charlap – Piano

Having heard and enjoyed Houston Person on disc and in concert many times, I found this album a bit of a surprise – but a very pleasant one. I had pigeonholed Houston as best suited to powerful, no-nonsense playing imbued with the blues. But here he comes across as a sensitive balladeer, playing so gently that he reminds one of Ben Webster - since you can hear every breath he takes. The repertoire is predominantly slow and gentle. Even S’Wonderful, which is taken at a bounce tempo, is discreet and subtle. And Houston’s own composition, Don’t Forget the Blues, manages to be bluesy without being too outspoken.

Bill Charlap is the perfect accompanist, reminiscent of Ellis Larkins’ delicate accompaniments for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Ruby Braff. He sometimes resorts to stride piano to maintain the pulse but more often the beat is tactfully suggested instead of being thudded home. His solo introductions to numbers like the title-track and Where Are You are exquisite in their delicacy.

The duo takes unpromising British show-tunes like If I Ruled the World and Where is Love (the tune from Lionel Bart’s Oliver!, not Where is the Love as the sleeve suggests) and transmutes them into pure gold: the former wistful rather than bombastic; the latter tenderly poignant. And just sample the give-and-take of Sweet Lorraine, where Houston and Bill share the tune between them, leaving one another plenty of space to breathe. In fact, Houston is quoted in the sleeve-notes as saying "Silence is as much a part of music as the notes are" and both he and Charlap create an airy feel to every number.

Engineered by Rudy Van Gelder at his own New Jersey studio, the recording quality is superb, and I can recommend this album without reserve.


Tony Augarde



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