Houston Person, a veritable maestro of the tenor saxophone, has etched his name into the annals of jazz through a career spanning over six decades. Born on November 10, 1934, in Florence, South Carolina, Person’s rich, bluesy, and emotive tenor sound has endeared him to both critics and audiences alike. His embodiment of soul jazz, coupled with his adeptness at hard bop and swing, makes his discography a treasure trove for saxophone enthusiasts.
Person embarked on his musical journey through formal education, earning a degree from South Carolina State College and later studying at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. This background laid the foundation for the soulful and technically refined style that would become his signature.
After serving in the military, Houston Person’s recording career gained momentum in the 1960s. His debut album, “Underground Soul!” (1966), marked the beginning of a prolific recording career. In the early days, Person was often seen playing alongside the greats like Johnny Hammond Smith, and his collaboration with vocalist Etta Jones would become one of the most celebrated partnerships in jazz history.
The 1970s solidified Person’s reputation as a heavyweight in the soul-jazz genre. He released several seminal albums including “Goodness!” and “Truth!” during this period, both of which are prime examples of his ability to effortlessly blend soul and jazz. His eloquent, almost vocal-like phrasing on the tenor saxophone resonated deeply with audiences, and his records from this era remain essential listening for saxophonists seeking to explore the intersection of soul and jazz.
As the decades progressed, Houston Person showed no signs of slowing down. He established himself as a versatile musician, adept at ballads, blues, and standards. He has also been an astute producer, bringing his musical sensibilities to albums by other artists, further cementing his stature in the jazz community.
Page last updated 11/20/2023.