One Person's "Odyssey"
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 03/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Typically, you would never catch me listening to a Houston Person album. I'm just not a very big fan of the watered-down R&B jazz that the tenor saxophonist came to symbolize. However, when I came across this disc, "Blue Odyssey," I was intrigued. I am always curious enough about a given player to hear what they have to say in the vocabulary of jazz. When I saw that Person's company on this March 12, 1968 session included veteran jazzmen whom I respect immensely like Curtis Fuller, Pepper Adams, Cedar Walton and Bob Cranshaw, I knew it couldn't be too bad. I mean if those guys weren't wasting their time on Person, then I wouldn't be either, right? Well, yes and no. The album overall is good. This is not an earth-shattering experience mind you, but it's a solid enough date, thanks in large parts to Walton's contributions. His frontline arrangements and two original compositions, the title track and "Holy Land," are the CD's highlights. Adams, Fuller and Cranshaw also make a strong showing. The disappointment is Person himself, as he doesn't rise to his colleagues' calling. His playing style, called "direct and sincere" on the back cover, is euphemistic at best. I would say uninspired and predictable are more like it, two terms that could furthermore describe the drumming of Person-regular Frankie Jones. Since "Blue Odyssey" is most likely (and sadly) Person's finest hour, I will reluctantly award this CD four stars, but due to his partners efforts and not his own."