"THINKING OF YOU"
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Tenor saxophonist Houston Person, the leading exponent in executing the marriage of blues and jazz, is on top of his game with this, his latest on Highnote.
The ballad "People" gets two treatments. The first chorus hears Person in straight-ahead mode. The second chorus takes a Latin turn and leads off with trumpeter Eddie Allen soloing before Person returns to close it out. The gentle guitar of James Chirillo is heard softly in the background.
The first nine of the 11 tracks feature an all-star rhythm section of pianist John Di Martino, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Willie Jones III and Chirillo.
Person's big robust tone lends itself perfectly to his program which almost commands the listener to do so with eyes closed, letting Person transport you back to some wonderful memory. "Why Did I Choose You?" is a perfect example and after Person's introductory solo, Di Martino keeps the mood with his gorgeous effort, setting the stage for Person's tender close.
One highlight is the final track, a medley of "That Sunday, That Summer" and "Funny." It's just Person's big tone and Chirillo's melodic guitar. It's a 4:32 duo masterpiece!
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Big band leader Gerald Wilson has perhaps the longest jazz history of anyone active today.
From 1939-42, he was an arranger and trumpeter for the legendary Jimmie Lunceford band. He gave up his horn in the 1960s. His history with the Monterey Jazz Festival goes back to 1958 when Wilson made his first of nine appearances with his big band. Even when not performing at Monterey, he would attend many as a fan and friend of the musicians.
It was during one of those times, I met him walking through the grounds. It was during a period when the late Portland bassist Leroy Vinnegar was quite ill. Wilson asked me to remember him to Leroy.
Here, Wilson has assembled a fabulous group of musicians. The first seven tracks comprise his "Monterey Moods Suite." His trumpet section has Jon Faddis, Terell Stafford, Jimmy Owens and Sean Jones. In the reed section are saxophonists Kamasi Washington, Steve Wilson, Antonio Hart and Ron Blake. The rhythm section is stellar with pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Lewis Nash and Wilson's son, guitarist Anthony Wilson. Trombonist Dennis Wilson and flutist Hubert Laws are also members.
Laws has a beautiful solo on track 4, "Latin Swing." The suite touches major big band forms such as up tempo, "Allegro;" swing waltz, "Jazz Swing Waltz"; ballad with one titled simply "Ballad." Of course there is a blues tribute, "Blues."
Everything about this release is five star. The compositions, their arrangements, the instrumental solos and tune order are all impeccable.
"WHAT'S GOING ON"
TOM DEMPSEY AND TIM FERGUSON
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Guitarist Tom Dempsey and bassist Tim Ferguson have released this superb duo recording of fine originals plus tunes written by Thad Jones, Marvin Gaye, Hoagy Carmichael, Mal Waldron and others.
It's extremely difficult to pick a favorite tune when such material as "Isfahan," "Stardust," "What's Going On," and "Soul Eyes" are included.
Even the originals like Dempsey's "As Spring Begins" and Ferguson's "Julie's Tabouleh" are unique compositions performed here in a lush and melodic manner.
Dick Bogle hosts a weekly jazz radio show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays on KMHD 89.1 FM. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.