Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Live Magic From Etta Jones & Houston Person

The collaborations between the late vocalist Etta Jones and saxophonist Houston Person produced so much musical magic that ended with she passed in 2001. HighNote has just issued, Don’t Misunderstand, a 1980 live recording from a New York City club, Salt Peanuts, that will delight the pair’s many fans. Jones’ vocal career started in Buddy Johnson’s Big Band before joining Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines. Later she hooked up with Prestige Records and in 1968 first recorded with tenor saxophonist Person, a musical relationship that would last over thirty years with many albums for Muse and HighNote before she passed. On this live recording they are backed by Sonny Phillips on organ and Frankie Jones (no relation to Etta) on drums. The gritty soul-jazz setting was a second home for Person, who first was heard from in Johnny ‘Hammond’ Smith’s combo. The recording opens with with a fine rendition of Blue Monk by Person. Ms. Jones is first heard on the title track, a wonderful ballad the late Gordon Parks wrote, and she has a blue teardrop in her off-the-beat delivery. The groove picks up a bit as Jones delivers Exactly Like You at a medium walking tempo with a fine solo by Person, with more of the same on Ain’t Misbehavin’. Her contribution to this ends with a lesser known number I Saw Stars. The disc then has three instrumentals that showcase Person’s ballad and blues playing with his take on Milt Jackson’s Bluesology being particularly wonderful. Phillips shines on the B-3 on I’m Glad There is You, while on Bluesology he gets on down to church. Don’t Misunderstand is a disc that will be enjoyed by fans of soul-organ jazz, soulful jazz tenor sax and one of the great jazz vocalists of the past several decades.

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