What tenor saxophonist Houston Person was saying on his horn and the way he was saying it last night at Blues Alley represents a form of musical communication that, until recently, had all but gone the way of the wood stove and radio drama. But like those two sources of warmth and good cheer, it seems to be making a comeback. No frills, circumlocutions or ambiguities, just direct talk from way down in the soul.
Person on the upbeat bellows out prodigious gusts and whip-cracking accents, but the "Ben Webster Whispers" he coaxes from his sax on ballads are right out of the bedroom.
Vocalist Etta Jones, whose dues-paying dates from work with early R&B bandleader Buddy Johnson in the '40s, is herself no mean conveyor of the heights of joy and the depths of despair. Her selections, as varied in mood as they were spirited in delivery, included "Georgia," "Old Folks" and "The One I Love."
The organ trio is a formula for sustained excitement that few small combos can match, and the leader of this group is one person who has mastered that equation. With keyboardist Jon Logan churning the seas and drummer Billy James at the howitzers, the foursome stays through Sunday.