*Fans of tenor saxophonist, Houston Person, can find him performing as part of the Swiss Global OSPAC Jazz Festival in West Orange, New Jersey. The Ninth Annual Jazz Festival will take place over two days, Friday, September 16th and Saturday, September 17thfrom 1:00 to 9:00 p.m.
“I played for OSPAC 3 or 4 times. It’s great for the community, stated Houston. “A lot of the musicians live in NJ so it’s a chance to get to see the people in their community. It’s a very nice venue. The show is performed on a bandstand outdoors. It’s by a lake. I think it’s known as Crystal Lake. The Festival features Arts and Crafts so it’s great for the family. The tickets for adults are $10, $5.00 for seniors and free for children, so in this economy the Festival is very affordable,” explained Mr. Person. “In fact Gary Walker of WBGO will be the emcee this year,” continued the well-known jazz musician.
“I am performing at OSPAC with John D. Martino on piano, Chip White on Drums and Harvey S will also be joining us as well” said Houston of the other musicians playing with him on stage. I am also coming out with a new CD this year, October 11th to be exact. It’s entitled “So Nice.” There will be some Cole Porter songs in it and a Stephen Sondheim medley. The CD consists of mostly jazz music but I will be adding a ting of blues. We will be featuring songs on the new CD like “I am Growing Accustomed to your Face,” “Easy Living,” and “So Nice,” a song I also named the CD after.”
Born in Newberry, South Carolina, Person was attracted to music early on. His mother was a teacher and his father worked for the Agricultural Department. “I listened to a lot of music in our home as a kid. We had a piano in the house. I started singing in the Church Choir and then later in my High School Glee Club. This got me interested in music. I went to study music at SC State College. I followed that up with a stint in the Service where I met other musicians. After I finished the military, I went back to school and attended Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. Later I met Etta Jones in a club. I had a group by then so in time Etta just became a part of my group,” remarked Houston who ended up performing with Etta Jones for 30 years.
“Currently, I am doing different projects. I recently did a project with vocalist Ernestine Anderson at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in Manhattan. I am always on the road touring. I have toured extensively in and out of the United States. I have booked some performances on the West coast. I will be in San Jose, then in San Francisco. I also have plans to perform in San Antonio, Texas and then Toronto, Canada. I will also be going abroad where I expect to perform in Lockerbie, Scotland in the Fall. I will also be going to England and Holland in 2012.
Houston Person has recorded everything from disco and gospel to pop and R&B in addition to his trademark, soulful hard bop. Best-known for his partnership with the great Etta Jones, which lasted until her death in 2001, Person has released over 75 albums and worked with a number of talented artists including vocalist Barbara Morrison, Ernie Andrews, Ernestine Anderson, Della Griffin and Dakota Staton, et al. He has recorded with the likes of Lena Horne, Lou Rawls, and Horace Silver. In fact, his recording “Something in Common” with Ron Carter won the Independent Jazz Record of the Year Award. He also received an Indie Award for his recording, “Why Not?”
The Swiss Global Artist Foundation will be sponsoring the Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center (OSPAC) this year, lending its name and support to Kate Baker, OPAC’s Executive Director, for the Swiss Global OSPAC Ninth Annual Jazz Festival which will feature artists such as Houston Person and his Quartet, Nat Adderly, Jr., and the Nat Adderly Jr., Quartet, Ali Jackson Quintet featuring Hope Boykin of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater; Sheila Jordan Quartet featuring Steve Kuhn with Cameron Brown; pianist Bill Charlap; Brazilian All-Stars: Romero Lubambo, Nilson Matta, and Claudio Roditi. The talent line-up includes singer and OPAC Executive Director, Kate Baker, and guitarist, Vic Juris, as well as Ralph LaLama, Anthony Pinciotti and Harvie S, Bob DeVos and Oscar Perez with the West Orange/NJ All Stars featuring Mike Lee, Ed Howard, Vince Ector and special guests Pam Purvis and Kevin Burke. Emceed by WBGO’s Gary Walker, OSPAC is held in an open-air setting complete with international food vendors, artisans and crafts, a health spa center, and entertainment and activities for children. The Saturday showcase will include “Paint the Music” led by Nitza Horner, a teaching artist and freelance educator affiliated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where patrons will paint what they hear.
“I always enjoy performing at OSPAC,” said the tenor saxophonist, a producer in his own right, who served for years as a house tenor for HighNote Records and is currently known as a master of popular songs which he performs in a relaxed, highly accessible style reminiscent of the great Ben Webster.
The Swiss Global OSPAC Jazz Festival will be held in an Amphitheater at Crystal Lake, located at 4 Boland Drive, West Orange, NJ. Interested parties can call 973-669-7385 and/or go on line by visiting www.OSPAC.org for the program schedule and travel and ticket information. In case of inclement weather, a rain date has been set for Saturday, September 24th.