By Brian Hamilton, Co-Pastor, Westminster Church
At Westminster Church, on June 18 at 6:30 p.m., a special performance and program in support of Jazz Night at DC will feature jazz master Houston Person. The date is also the 75th birthday of program director, Dick Smith, and offers a great opportunity to celebrate his many contributions to jazz heritage throughout his life, and especially for jazz in Southwest through the Jazz Night programs at Westminster Church. This Southwest program recently marked its 20th anniversary in January celebrating weekly jazz performances every Friday night. A former Washington Redskins player in the late 1960’s, Dick Smith is also acclaimed as one of the finest jazz vocalists in the DC area and a tireless champion for DC jazz.
This event will feature a performance by Houston Person collaborating with the Chuck Redd Trio, a world-class jazz ensemble based in DC. A special presentation celebrating Dick Smith and his many contributions to the community will also be part of the evening. Chef Michael DuBose, a noted Escoffier Society chef, will bring a special menu to add to the experience. Tickets are available at Westminster Church or online at www.westminsterdc/jazzevent.html for $100 each.
A native of Florence, S.C., Houston Person is one of the last jazz masters who has kept the soulful thick-toned tenor tradition of Gene Ammons alive and well. After learning piano as a youth he switched to tenor sax. While serving in the Army in Germany he played with various groups comprised of other jazz pioneers active in the 50’s and 60’s. After a stint with Johnny Hammond’s group in the mid 60’s he became a bandleader himself in following years, often working with singer Etta Jones. He is one of the most soulful jazz players who ever lived who pays close attention to melody with a deep sense of the blues. Houston notes his major musical influences as Illinois Jacquet, Stan Getz and Ben Webster. He is always grateful to his highly supportive parents for buying him a saxophone and supporting his musical development.
In addition to weekly performances, Jazz Night presents education programs, community outreach, support for youth jazz development and archiving of the heritage of jazz and the innovative jazz artists of the DC area at work now and in the past. This program is a benefit for all of these activities.
Westminster Church is located at 400 I St., SW. More information is available by calling the office at 202-484-7700 or at www.westminsterdc.org.