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Houston Person: Lost and Found

Originally produced for Muse by the diligent tenor saxophonist, Houston Person, these now appear as part of a series produced, “by Joel Dorn for the Masked Announcer.”

The first is “the best buy,” for it contains not only the 1977 material issued on LP as “Wildflower,” but also an overlooked 1991 session that united Person with Charles Brown, the late Red Callender, Danny Caron on guitar and Gaylord Birch on drums. A couple of sage estimates by Callender, that superior bassist, are quoted in the notes. Of Person he says, “He’s a player who doesn’t try to prove anything, but by doing that, he does prove something.” Of the other main protagonist, this: “I’ve known him for years. Charles Brown is a piano player who sings,” which he does on “No Denial Blues,” “Never Let Me Go,” “Sweet Slumber” and “When I’m Not With You” very effectively. His piano, too, contrasts engagingly with Person’s tough, declamatory statements. On the “Wildflower” numbers, there are solos by Bill Hardman (trumpet) and Billy Ponder (guitar), as well as good support for Person-especially on “Dameron”-by Sonny Phillips (organ) and Idris Muhammad (drums).

“The Re-Entry” puts Person in a neat sextet with Cap’n McDuff, the brothers Ron and Cecil Bridgewater on tenor and trumpet respectively, John Hart on guitar and Grady Tate on drums. In this context, his past experience with organists serves Person well, and McDuff must be about the best there is as an accompanist. He likes to play quietly, worrying a riff or nudging the horns before unleashing his instrument’s power with an arranger’s feeling for dynamic contrast. There’s a lot of danceable music here until they exit politely with “Laura.”

The Etta Jones set is also from 1977, Person, Phillips, Ponder and Muhammad again being among those in attendance. The veteran singer tends to be taken for granted nowadays, despite a long career that included engagements with Buddy Johnson, Earl Hines and Art Blakey. Here she’s her typically energetic, outgoing self, but toning down for a Billie Holiday touch on “Gloomy Sunday.”

Originally Published