Houston Person

All Soul

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It seems like every fall for the last ten years or so, jazz fans have been graced by the release of a new Houston Person record. The Texas tenor is one of the last men standing and 2005's All Soul shows he is standing as tall as ever. His gruff but inviting tone is steady and true, and a quick listen to the first track shows it hasn't dropped off at all. On the album he is joined by Eddie Allen on trumpet, Stan Hope on piano, Randy Johnston on guitar, Per-Ola Gadd on bass, and Chip White on drums for a mix of ballads and hard bop groovers. They back him quite ably on the arrangements, but it's hard not to wish Person took all the solos, especially when Allen and Johnston reel off technically proficient but soul-less solos (in comparison to Person anyway). Person as usual positively bleeds heart and soul on the ballads like "All Soul" and "Let It Be Me," which he effortlessly rescues from cheesiness, and romps through the up-tempo tracks like Hank Mobley's "Bossa for Baby," his own very Art Blakey-sounding "Why Not," and the loping "2 Rb's." The best moments of all come on Person's solos during a spirited take on Percy Mayfield's classic "Please Send Me Someone to Love," where you can picture him walking the bar and sending a packed club into an uproar as he reaches deeper into his soul and spills it all out. Too bad the proceedings come back down to earth when the other soloists take over, but then that is the nature of this record and so many like it that feature giants like Person. You have to wait out the chaff to get to the wheat. On All Soul the waiting is well worth it.

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