Sunday, Jan. 28
Last Sunday, I caught a rare Jazz Kitchen CD release party for keyboardist/composer Michael Houston’s release, Chill 2 This. Houston is going his own way in jazz; his crystalline keyboard sound recalls the Fender Rhodes style of jazz in the eighties. His trio of Jeremy Harrison, bass; Joshua Humphrey drums and vocalist Tonya Martin sold an evening of all originals with warmth, humor and passion. Chill jazz with its laidback style of compelling rhythm and surging improvisations from Houston kept the new tunes captivating for the capacity crowd. While most of the songs were about love and relationships, performed with soft funk grooves, the group displayed their flexibility with a tempo-shifting gentle swing on “Paradise,” while Farrelly’s saxophone warmed things up with fiery improvisations.
Houston has a fresh sound and style and a dynamic vocalist in Martin. What you hear is Houston’s concept of contemporary jazz, and it’s not about cutting-edge jazz. His style places you in a comfort zone for whatever you want to do. He has found a niche that could gather him a lot of fans.