If tenor saxophonist Houston Person were to release a sampler of his recordings, in many ways it would resemble his current album, "Heavy Juice" -- a largely unvarnished and convincing collection of blues, ballads and big-toned jazz.
Person clearly has been in more prestigious company: Of his eight session-mates, only the name of the drummer, Bernard Purdie, is likely to ring a bell. But all the musicians are attuned to Person's soulful, persuasive phrasing and some of them -- like guitarist Melvin Sparks, who is clearly acquainted with Charlie Christian -- are impressive in their own right.
Organist Jon Logan makes for an especially compatible partner on several numbers, including Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love." Logan consistently creates the loose, after-hours mood reminiscent of Person's recordings with Groove Holmes. Typically, though, the real pleasure comes in hearing Person warm up to a ballad -- his thoughtful treatment of "Summertime" is particularly lovely.
Unfortunately, the album suffers briefly from the inclusion of the "Theme from Love Boat," arranged with strings, no less. Always a sucker for a ballad, Person sometimes searches for material, but even his buoyant tone can't keep "Love Boat" from going under. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM HOUSTON PERSON -- Heavy Juice (Muse MR5260). THE SHOW HOUSTON PERSON, Friday through Sunday at Mr. Y's.