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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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So Nice

HighNote HCD 7229



1. Blues Everywhere
2. All Too Soon
3. I Wished on the Moon
4. Kiss and Run
5. So Nice
6. I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face
7. Close to You
8. Star Eyes
9. Minor Inconvenience
10. Easy Living
11. Everything I Love
12. Stephen Sondheim Medley

Houston Person - Tenor sax
Warren Vach‚ - Cornet, flugelhorn (tracks 1-3, 8)
Mark Patterson - Trombone (tracks 1, 5, 6, 8, 9)
John Di Martino - Piano
Howard Alden - Guitar (tracks 1, 2, 9-11)
Ray Drummond - Bass (tracks 1-11)
Lewis Nash - Drums (tracks 1-11)


The Morning Star called Houston Person "a precious jazz anachronism". I would agree with the "precious", but he doesn't deserve the criticism of being an anachronism. Houston may play in a style which is not the current trend of the moment but his playing has qualities which keep it fresh forever. He can play a ballad with feeling and delicacy but he can also play soulful numbers with earthy blues feeling.

Houston's blues awareness is evident in the opening Blues Everywhere, where the horns of Warren Vach‚ and Mark Patterson help him preach the blues with solid conviction. And his ability with ballads is clear in All Too Soon, where he opens with the neglected verse and plays with amiable warmth. Star Eyes is an equally tender vehicle for Houston's personable tenor, expounding with emotion over a gentle bossa beat.

In fact this album has a nice mixture of blues vehicles and jazz standards. I Wished on the Moon shows Houston's fluency at mid-tempo, and Warren Vach‚'s cornet is also nice and easy, although (on my copy, at least) there is a recording glitch at around three minutes. The sound also flutters badly on the next track and on Star Eyes (this applies to my hi-fi, but not my computer), so buyer beware! This is a pity, as the rest of the album is eminently keepable. So Nice is exactly what the title suggests and I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face is Houston at his best: deep-toned and eloquent. Easy Living shows how Houston can keep close to a melody but still make it sound new. The closing Stephen Sondhein Medley has just Person and superb pianist John Di Martino performing two Sondheim tunes with complete ease and masterly pacing.

Tony Augarde

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