Houston Person: Nice ‘N’ Easy

Houston Person has called his style “good old bootin’ tenor sax playing.” With parts of this album, he might also refer to boudoir footwear, especially his playing on the ballads “All My Tomorrows,” “It’s All in the Game,” “If It’s the Last Thing I Do,” “Ill Wind” and “Sweet Life.” There is also the ensemble sound of Chuck Redd’s vibes and John di Martino’s piano, a harmonic combination reminiscent of the George Shearing Quintet (sans guitar). With bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Lewis Nash aboard throughout and driving the swinging tracks “Someday You’ll Be Sorry,” “Stolen Sweets,” the title tune, “Let’s Fall in Love” and “Bluesology,” this album is one of the prolific Person’s best, personally and ensemble-wise.

The rapport between Person and Nash ignites on Louis Armstrong’s “Someday…,” the lead-off track, and is also noteworthy on the theme statement of the title track (which also includes Drummond) and the “bootin'” “Bluesology.” Redd and di Martino play choice solos throughout the set, maintaining the musical atmosphere named in the album title.

Person is a connoisseur of melody, and he solos in a way that honors the rhythms of those melodies. He can alter his tone from tender restraint to joyful shouts. He is ever-soulful and is as capable of extroverted double-timing (“Bluesology”) as he is of economical exposition (“Ill Wind”). More young saxophonists should study the gospel according to Person.