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".
On Musique Du Bois, things start with a chorded bass-alto workout in the intro of "Samba du Bois," actually more a hard bop than Brazilian excursion, with Phil Woods' alto frying on the edges. The most inventive juxtaposition of "All Blues" welded to "Willow Weep for Me" works perfectly over ten-plus minutes, in a steady but quick waltz tempo. This is a tour-de-force reading, Woods wafting over Jaki Byard's blue-green chords. During his solo, the pianist goes light blue in cascading, flowing phrases that tumble out of the 88 keys.
An '87 recording of prototype Ponder; soul jazz and blues played with energy and a slick, yet resourceful conviction. Ponder has never gotten the profile or the exposure he deserves; he doesn't use gimmicks or crank up the volume, but his tasty fills, clever riffs, and crisp, bluesy solos are always worthwhile.