Friday, December 9, 2016

Houston Person - 1966 - Underground Soul!

Houston Person 
Underground Soul!

01. What The World Needs Now Is Love 3:55
02. Underground Soul 5:45
03. The Pimp 3:45
04. Tears 3:45
05. Aleilula 4:10
06. Ballin' 5:50
07. If You Could See Me Now 4:25
08. Strike Up The Band 3:00

Drums – Frank Jones
Organ – Charles Boston
Tenor Saxophone – Houston Person
Trombone – Mark Levine

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on June 16, 1966

Growing up, Houston Person played the piano. Later, Houston switched to tenor saxophone. However, Houston Person never dreamt of being a musician. That wasn’t how he saw his future. Instead, Houston joined the US Army.

During his tour of duty, Houston was stationed in West Germany. That was when Houston joined the US Army service band. That’s where the soulful sound of Houston’s tenor saxophone made its debut. However, this was no ordinary service band.

The US Army service band that Houston Person joined, featured some future jazz greats. Its lineup featured Don Ellis, Cedar Walton and Eddie Harris, who Houston would later work with. For Don, Cedar, Eddie and Houston, this was part of their musical education. They would return home better musicians. Their time in the service band helped hone their sound, and prepared them for life as a professional musicians. In Houston’s case, his professional debut was on hold.

Before turning professional, Houston, who was born in Florence, South Carolina, on 10th November 1934, decided to complete his eduction. He returned to the Hartt School, at the University of Hartford, Connecticut. Only once Person had completed his studies, did he turn professional.

Boston was where Houston made his home. That’s where he worked with a series of R&B groups. He started playing small gigs and eventually, was spotted by Hammond organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith in 1963. For an up-and-coming musician, this was the breakthrough he had been looking for. Houston was with Johnny “Hammond” Smith for four years. During that period, Houston Person had signed to Prestige Records.

In the sixties, Prestige Records was one of jazz music’s most prestigious labels. It rubbed shoulders with Atlantic Records, Blue Note Records and Impulse. So, signing for a label of the stature of Prestige Records was a sign that Houston was a musician going places. His soulful tenor saxophone was winning friends and influencing people.

By 1966, Houston Person was ready to release his Prestige Records debut, Underground Soul! This was the first of twelve albums Houston released on Prestige Records between 1966 and 1973.

When Houston released his first album,1966s Underground Soul!, it received mixed reviews. Critics couldn’t seem to make their mind up about the album. Underground Soul! struggled to find an audience. Prestige Records put this down to being Houston’s debut album. Surely this was just teething problems for Houston Person?

1 comment: