November 2012 CD of the Month
Saxophonist Houston Person first came into prominence in the early 1960s and was one of the pioneers of the then emerging soul jazz movement. Since then, Houston has become one of the most recorded saxophonists and a much in demand producer. His latest CD, naturally is for HighNote Records, his home since 1996 for which he has released over 15 albums, appeared as a guest for over 20 other sessions as well as producing many more dates for the HighNote family of labels. Moreover, his association with HighNote Records’ president Joe Fields goes back to the late 1970s when Person was signed to Muse Records, Mr. Fields’ previous label. For his most recent outing Houston reunites with pianist Cedar Walton who accompanied Person in one of Houston’s earliest recordings as a leader in 1967. In addition to Cedar’s magnificent playing, Ray Drummond is rock-steady on bass and the always tasty Lewis Nash is at the drums. naturally is an ideal mix of up tempo, finger-snappin’ tunes, smooth as silk ballads, standards and lesser known songs.
A native of Florence, South Carolina, Person attended South Carolina State College where he is now a member of their Hall of Fame. Upon graduation, he joined the US Air Force Band which also featured Cedar Walton. After his duties in the Air Force and a move to New York City, Houston played with B-3 organ master , Johnny “Hammond” Smith, during his stint with Smith, he met vocalist Etta Jones which lead to a partnership that lasted over 30 years, as her saxophonist, touring band’s music director, and producer for her recordings. Person began playing sax during the era of swing specialists, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster et al. Add to this-the blues, the church and his southern roots and it’s no wonder that the soulful sounds of Houston Person’s saxophone will soothe your soul, make your toes tap and have you come back for repeated listening.