Houston Person: Reminiscing At Rudy’s

Paying tribute to Van Gelder, the 88-year-old tenor man shows no sign of flagging in a bluesy set with Larry Fuller and Russell Malone

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The album title is a tribute to Houston Person’s friend, the celebrated recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder, who died in 2016.

In a long career that has included 80 albums as a leader, Person continues to find inspiration in the songbook repertoire. Eighty-eight years old at the time of this recording he takes a relaxed, unhurried stroll through ballads you don’t hear every day: they include Again, which Ida Lupino introduced in the 1948 film-noir Road House, Nothing Ever Changes My Love For You, originally performed by Nat King Cole and pleasingly sung here by drummer Lewis Nash, and Put Your Head On My Shoulder, one of Paul Anka’s better songs.

They’re all performed with the minimum of vibrato but it’s not all sweetness and light. Moon River’s small range of a ninth is taken at quite a clip. It was written by Henry Mancini to accommodate Audrey Hepburn’s fragile voice for the 1961 film Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

Person has recorded Percy Mayfield’s soulful little opus Please Send Me Someone To Love three times over the years – in 1968, 1982 and 2005. It’s not a blues but his downhome delivery almost makes it one.

Russell Malone and Larry Fuller both make major contributions to the success of the CD. The guitarist’s acknowledged influences include Chet Atkins, Wes Montgomery and B.B. King but his playing here recalls Barney Kessel too. Larry Fuller has worked with Ernestine Anderson, Jeff Hamilton and Ray Brown. His blues-drenched, Gene Harris-like harmonies are a perfect fit for the leader.

Discography
At Long Last Love; Again; Moon River; Put Your Head On My Shoulder; Why Did I Choose You; Nothing Ever Changes My Love For You; My Romance; I’ll Let You Know; Please Send Me Someone To Love; Reminiscing At Rudy’s (57.24)
Person (ts); Larry Fuller (p); Russell Malone (elg); Matthew Parrish (b); Lewis Nash (d, v). New Jersey, 19 July 2022.
High Note HCD 7343