Monday, August 8, 2011

Misty watercolor memories

Last night I went to the Pine Grill Reunion, the free jazz concert on Buffalo's East Side, and I caught Houston Person, the great saxophonist.

Houston Person, playing the same ol' beat-up looking sax he always plays, played an unusual jazz number. He played "The Way We Were."

It goes great on saxophone as you can hear here. Hear, hear!

It is perfect for Person's way of playing which is natural and conversational. Unfortunately that YouTube clip, which comes from another time and another place, cuts off the beginning of the melody. But it gives you an idea of what Houston can do.

As long as I have known Houston Person he has been an old man. That is strange because I remember first seeing him, I think, 10 years ago. He used to come to Buffalo's Calumet Arts Cafe with Etta Jones, his wife, or girlfriend, or whatever she was. Those evenings were glorious. Then we heard them both at the Pine Grill Reunion several years ago, just a few weeks before she died. He is just a wonderful natural player. That is a quality I love in Pennario's playing and it is not as common as you think. There are so many artists, both in classical and in jazz, who over-engineer things.

"The Way We Were" is a pretty song. Marvin Hamlisch is a good songwriter. Nice guy, too. See, I cannot say he is a nice person because writing about Houston Person that could get confusing!

We had a blast with Hamlisch here in Buffalo when he was our pops conductor for a few years. Well,  I did, anyway. I do not know if everyone did!

Once I had the idea for a story to trail around after him for a day. It was hysterical. This BPO staffer drove us around in a little compact car. You had big Hamlisch getting in and out of this tiny front seat. I was his briefcase carrier, was another thing. It was never discussed but every time Hamlisch and I got into this little car -- I was in the back seat -- Hamlisch would hand me his briefcase.

He got cookies from somewhere and was handing me cookies in the back seat. I remember that too.

Fond memories of Marvin Hamlisch! And Houston Person.

And the way we were.

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