Chris Potter, Got the Keys to the Kingdom: Live at the Village Vanguard, Edition ****

We would have been shocked if Got the Keys…

Published: 17 Jan 2023. Updated: 12 months.

We would have been shocked if Got the Keys… was a let down. Vintage Potter? Yes. The purple patch continues and it's even better when it's all done live. There is a new or more properly novel side to the American's playing revealed more clearly here and that is the almost growling gospelly blues coming through more overtly, certainly more rolling than Rowling in the deep. That element in Potter, C. (not H)'s artistry has been there in the heat of battle for ages. But when it's rammed home as on 'You Gotta Move' streaming ahead of release or the gospel title track you think differently. It's probably an easier album for newcomers to his music to grasp. But there are highwire passages as well as the gutsier moments. And bebop pyrotechnics are factored in fear not. The pick of the whole thing in terms of sheer artistry is the version of Billy Strayhorn's 'Blood Count' where acres of space are opened up and Craig Taborn on piano plays his part brilliantly perhaps going far more trad than you'd expect. Scott Colley comes over like Dave Holland in certain passages and drummer Marcus Gilmore knows when to crank up the heat as easily as lay completely back.

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Houston Person, Reminiscing at Rudy's, High Note ***

Tenor saxophonist Houston Person's best work isn't on High Note, a label he has been with for many years, but far further back to when the very mainstream swinging US leader was in his Prestige pomp or appearing often even more effectively on other …

Published: 17 Jan 2023. Updated: 13 months.

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Tenor saxophonist Houston Person's best work isn't on High Note, a label he has been with for many years, but far further back to when the very mainstream swinging US leader was in his Prestige pomp or appearing often even more effectively on other people's records, notably Charles Earland's Black Talk (1969).

The very weary tempi selected on a lot of the numbers here is an issue even when the drummer is as fine a player as Lewis Nash who is keeping a lot in reserve. There is some good soloing particularly on the title track from the erstwhile Diana Krall guitarist Russell Malone but Person's chops don't sound brilliant maybe not at all surprising given that horn players have it very tough to maintain their full vigorous sound when they reach their eighties if they can play even moderately satisfyingly, like Person can, at all.

The twinkling take on 'Again' that Ida Lupino so winningly rendered in the 1948 noir Road House also covered that year by Vera Lynn nearly won me over. But 'Moon River' is reedy and shrill. The title track is jollier and kept to last.

Better by far re Person you knew and Person has a significant body of achievement down the years is certainly to go back to the Charles Earland record mentioned above because Reminiscing at Rudy's is for High Note collectors and completists only.