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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove


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The Art and Soul of...

HighNote HCD 7200



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
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
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. The Very Thought of You


I can hardly believe that I used to categorise Houston Person as a useful journeyman saxophonist without him being particularly special. I could no longer hold this blinkered view after seeing and hearing him playing in concert, when I belatedly adjusted my naive view and realised what a masterful musician he is. This triple-CD set should convince other listeners of that fact.

I haven't listed any personnels for this album, as the sleeve is extremely confusing. It lists two conflicting line-ups for the first CD and none at all for the second and third. At any rate, the album includes tracks recorded with such musicians as Bill Charlap, Russell Malone, Ron Carter, Kenny Washington and Grady Tate. Houston Person himself chose most of the tracks for this collection, taken mainly from the dozen albums he has recorded for the HighNote label. Every track has been mixed, edited and mastered by Rudy Van Gelder. And the tunes are almost like an encyclopedia of the Great American Songbook, including music by such composers as Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Richard Rodgers and Jerome Kern.

Houston Person brings his own deeply-felt interpretation to each song, somehow conveying simultaneously immense power and great sensitivity. As a quotation from bassist Ron Carter in the sleeve-note says: "One of the reasons I love Houston is that he's one of the few guys who's carrying on the tradition of the Texas tenors" - a school that includes Buddy Tate, Arnett Cobb and Gene Ammons. The Texan tenor-saxists were notable for their powerful playing which still had a rich, mellow tone that made the power acceptable, not overwhelming. Although he didn't come from Texas, Ben Webster exemplifies this style as well as anybody - and Houston will often remind the listener of Ben, which is no bad thing. Just savour, for instance, Houston's reading of Tenderly, which is tender as well as intense, complex as well as simply beautiful.

There would be little point in reviewing all the tracks on this rich collection, especially as I have already reviewed on this website several of the CDs from which this album was compiled. Just take my word for it that Houston Person deserves to be as famous as many other tenorists who have a higher profile. And this clearly-recorded set deserves to be heard.

Tony Augarde




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