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Houston Person, 'Reminiscing at Rudy's'

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    Posted: 18 Jan 2023 at 2:10am
Houston Person playing saxophone
(Photo by Steve Mynett)


Tenor saxophonist Houston Person, now approaching 90 years of age, is nothing if not a seasoned vet of jazz and hasn’t shown any signs he’s slowing down anytime soon. With a career spanning several decades across sounds of hard bop, swing, and later soul jazz, Person has a healthy back catalogue under his belt as both a bandleader and sideman – at least 70 or so records as a rough estimate – and with his latest album Reminiscing at Rudy’s Person relaxes into a selection of ballads and old favourites in tribute to an old friend.

The title itself is an homage to one of Person’s go-to record engineers Rudy Van Gelder, a name that’ll be familiar to many no doubt, with Van Gelder present for Person’s first bandleading release Underground Soul in 1967 at his Englewood Cliffs studio. Person and Van Gelder’s working relationship would continue for many years until the latter’s passing in 2016, and while the album’s status as a memorial record befits its fairly ballad-heavy tracklist, Person and co. don’t limit themselves to such, and there are a handful of uptempo numbers here too. The well-loved tune ‘Moon River’ makes an appearance earlier in the tracklist in a notably more danceable interpretation, and the opening tune, Cole Porter’s ‘At Long Last Love’, kicks off what could perhaps have been a more sombre record with an energetic bop.

 Reminiscing at Rudy's

Throughout Reminiscing at Rudy’s Person takes a considerate approach in his playing, quite understated and smooth with a delicate touch. And while Person himself is certainly nothing to sniff at, there are plenty of other great solo spots particularly by guitarist Russell Malone, who takes the lead on tracks like ‘Put Your Head on My Shoulder’, offers some cool bossa chord-play on the Marvin Fisher tune ‘Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You’ and accompanies bassist Matthew Parrish as he takes the opening solo on ‘My Romance’. More often than not it seems Person’s more than happy to let the rest of his band take over, as heard on ‘Put Your Head On My Shoulder’ as pianist Larry Fuller provides the quintet’s guiding voice before Person re-enters.

Houston Person
(Photo by Anna Yatskevich)

A welcome surprise also comes on the aforementioned ‘Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You’; a tune originally written for Cole Porter, Person’s version features vocals by drummer Lewis Nash. Vocals aren’t his main gig, but you may not even notice and his soft baritone voice is a great addition to the tune. The Percy Mayfield tune ‘Please Send Me Someone to Love’ switches things up a bit with a more bluesy number – again with a decent chunk of the soloing done by Malone – while the similarly swing-y closing track, a Person original and title track of the record, ends things on a jaunty note.

Reminiscing at Rudy’s avoids the trappings of a morose memorial album by injecting a bit of fun into the proceedings, and it’s all the stronger for it. That’s by no means saying that the ballads on this record are weak; in fact, they seem to be Person’s bread and butter. If you’re after a record of assured, solid jazz with a tastefully classic flavour, Houston Person has you covered.

from www.prestomusic.com

Edited by snobb - 18 Jan 2023 at 2:12am
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