‘Full bodied and comforting as home-baked apple pie’ is one apt description of Houston Person’s saxophone sound. It has also been compared to ‘mom’s meatloaf.’ Inasmuch as these similes attempt to convey the warm-hearted and effortlessly accomplished nature of the South Carolina-born tenorman’s art, they are spot-on, but it must be remembered that Person’s roots are in organ-centered R&B. This brings a bluesy integrity resulting from his immersion in music forever connected with Gen Ammons, Stanley Turrentine and others, to which Person has added a burnished sophistication, an assured elegance and poise that have rendered his recent discography an object lesson in unfussy, no-gimmicks music-making. Person also possesses an ability to imbue up-tempo material with an irresistible wailing intensity. All these traits are on full display on his new disc, “Nice ‘n’ Easy.”
Though rooted firmly in the tradition of big band jazz, Dave Slonaker’s Los Angeles-based Big Band looks toward the future of large ensemble jazz on “Intrada,” a set of dynamic modern original compositions and arrangements. The band features an all-star cast of jazz and studio greats including Peter Erskine, Wayne Bergeron, Clay Jenkins, Bob Shepard and Bill Reichenbach. An arranger and orchestrator for many Hollywood composers, Slonaker has credits on dozens of films and TV shows, and his works have been performed by the Count Basie, Clark Terry, and Woody Herman Bands.
Also this week, drummer Chris Parker, a Chicago native who includes work with Miles Davis, the Brecker Brothers and Freddie Hubbard on his resume, unveils a new recording, “The Chris Parker Trio”; trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, who just completed a residency in Eastern Iowa, offers up “The Intimate Ellington: Ballads and Blues”; and the proto-retro crucible of cool, Chaise Lounge, reminiscent of the glory days of the L.A. studio cats of the ‘60s, releases “Dot Dot Dot.”