Houston Person's 2014 effort, The Melody Lingers On, is a romantic, laid-back set of songs showcasing the septuagenarian saxophonist. A journeyman artist with a bent toward swinging soul-jazz, Person has developed into something of an American treasure over the past 30 years. Since the '90s, Person has released a steady stream of standards albums, heavy on lyrical and blues-based songs that perfectly exploit his distinctive, burnished tenor drawl. The Melody Lingers On is no exception, featuring a set of songs heavily weighted toward an intimate, afterglow vibe centered on the warm sound of Person's saxophone.
The Extraordinary Nat King Cole will be released in two distinct versions. The standard single-disc edition contains 22 classic Cole performances, while the two-CD Deluxe edition adds 14 rare and/or previously unreleased tracks, including four never-before-heard vintage songs and previously unissued alternate takes of the Cole standards ''Straighten Up And Fly Right,'' ''Unforgettable,'' ''Mona Lisa,'' ''The Christmas Song,'' and ''(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons'' taken from the Nat King Cole Story sessions. Also featured are ''Ain't She Sweet'' and ''What to Do,'' recorded in 1954, both of which find Cole trading vocals with his daughters Carole and Natalie (whose cross-generational 1991 duet version of ''Unforgettable'' helped to introduce her father to a new generation of listeners.
Houston Person really sounds great in this later date for Muse Records – definitely the older lion in the title, surrounded by a younger pride of players who really make the record swing! The set's got a rock-solid rhythm section with Benny Green on piano, Christian McBride on bass, and Winard Harper on drums – that kind of in the pocket combo that was often the driving force of a Person-produced Muse Records session like this. Philip Harper's also in the frontline on trumpet, sparkling nicely next to the tenor – and the tunes have a relatively laidback feel, and a rich sound that hardly shows the date of the record at all. Titles include "Dig", "Dear Heart", "Sweet Love", "Like Someone In Love", and "Captain Hook".
The River Rolls On is the second CD by Monty's Harlem-Kingston Express, a followup to the collective's Grammy-nominated 2011 live album for Motema. The group embodies Alexander's desire to merge the two styles: Monty says while the recording was made in New York, it made him feel as if he was in a local club in his hometown of Kingston. For this new one, Monty is joined by his core ensemble of Hassan Shakur on acoustic bass, guitarist Yotam Silberstein, and drummers Karl Wright and Obed Calvaire. They are joined by Earl Appleton on keyboards, electric bassist Joshua Thomas, guitarist Andy Bassford and percussionist Courtney Panton.