Veteran saxophonist Houston Person has kept the soulful thick-toned tenor tradition of Gene Ammons alive, particularly in his work with organists. He switched to tenor after learning piano as a youth, and picked up valuable experience as a member of Johnny Hammond's group (1963-1966). Person became a bandleader in the following years, often working with singer Etta Jones, and has been a standard-bearer of so-called "Soul Jazz". His thoughtfully chosen repertoire of blues and ballads, popular and r&b standards, and compositions by fellow jazz instrumentalists aims to please the public and has helped to keep Person in steady work in clubs and concerts as well as on recording sessions.
Since recording his first album as a leader, "Underground Soul" (Prestige Records, 1966), Houston has released close to 100 albums on the Prestige, Westbound, Mercury, Savoy, and Muse labels, and has recorded with Charles Brown, Ron Carter, Bill Charlap, Charles Earland, Lena Horne, Etta Jones, Lou Rawls, Janis Siegel, Horace Silver, Dakota Staton, Cedar Walton, Billy Butler, Don Patterson, Grant Green, Sonny Phillips, Johnny "Hammond" Smith, Richard "Groove" Holmes and many others. His latest recordings (on HighNote records) are "Chemistry" (a duet with Ron Carter) (2016), "Something Personal" (2015), "The Melody Lingers On" (2014), "Nice and Easy" (2013) and "Naturally" (2012).
Pianist, vocalist and educator Dena DeRose began playing piano when she was three. She started working as a Jazz pianist in upstate New York, but by the mid-'80s her Jazz fervor led her right into a case of carpal tunnel syndrome, aggravated by arthritis, which was severe enough to require 2 surgeries, and forced her to completely give up the piano for over 2 years. With her spirit and her livelihood both in jeopardy, and while visiting a jazz club with friends, someone dared her to get up and sing a song. She did it, she liked it, and so did the audience. Dena had not only found her ticket out of the physical predicament, but, a few years later she had recovered enough to add piano back into the act, and discovered that the singing had helped her, adding lyricism and phrasing to her piano lines. Since then, she has also developed into a busy music educator.
In addition to leading her own trio, DeRose has worked with such major names as Randy Brecker, Houston Person, Ray Brown, Clark Terry, Marian McPartland, Benny Golson, John Scofield, Benny Green, Ray Drummond, Alex Riel, Deborah Brown, Jimmy Cobb, Ken Peplowski, Jay Leonhart, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, Phil Woods, David "Fathead' Newman, Rufus Reid, Jay Clayton, Mark Murphy, Marvin Stamm, and many, many others.
Dena made her debut album in 1996 with "Introducing Dena DeRose", on Sharp Nine Records. DeRose next moved to MaxJazz for several well-received albums, including 2005's "A Walk in the Park", the two volumes "Live at The Jazz Standard" (2007 and 2009) and 2012's "Travelin' Light". She then paid tribute to one of her idols, legendary pianist/vocalist Shirley Horn, with "We Won't Forget You: An Homage to Shirley Horn" on HighNote Records (2014). Her latest release is "United" (2016), featuring guest appearances from longtime associates trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and guitarist Peter Bernstein.
DeRose has been chosen by Downbeat's Critic's Poll as an "Artist Deserving Wider Recognition" in 2003, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2014, and 2015. All About Jazz anointed her as a "Jazz Artist of the Year" in 2003, and "Best Jazz Album" of 2007. (Pressetext)