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Houston Person

It’s interesting how the popularity of music comes in cycles. Back when Houston Person was recording for the Prestige label, nobody was too enthused about the tenor sax and organ combination he was concentrating on. However, they stuck with him and eventually his LP Goodness! proved a smash hit, and for a brief while he was in the international limelight.

However, despite that brush with mainstream success, he continued to be overlooked by most of the jazz cognoscente, who never seemed to develop a taste for his taste. Four decades later, though, he’s gained a cult following worldwide for his simple, straightforward approach to improvisation and the large, expansive sound he coaxes from his horn. He’s also now seen as one of the main exponents of the Soul Jazz form that would eventually be reborn under the marketing moniker Acid Jazz. Over the course of his career, this jazz giant (who’s often seen as a stylistic descendant of Illinois Jacquet and Lester Young), has recorded with such greats as Cecil Bridgewater, Bernard Purdie, Hank Jones and Grant Green, and backed up Etta James.

For this engagement, he’ll be supported by pianist Norm Gagne’s Trio. The versatile and experienced Gagne is a recent transplant to the Hilton Head area, and is said to be one of the best keyboard men around.

Fri. - Sat., The Jazz Corner (Hilton Head).

Captain Soular Cat

This Rome, Ga., sextet has been touring the jam band circuit for almost four years, boasting influences that range from the obvious (The Allmans, The Meters, Santana) to the not-so-obvious (John Coltrane, Elmore James, Paul Simon). They’ve shared bills with a variety of heavyweights in their genre, such as Leftover Salmon, Gov’t Mule and The David Grisman Quintet.

The group’s lineup includes lead guitarist Benji Shanks, who has recorded with Athens’ Bluestring and is a former member of the Count M’Butu Orchestra. In fact, the Count M’Butu connection continues with percussionist and vocalist Gaurav Malhotra, who studied with the Count, and has jammed or toured with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Blueground Undergrass, Widespread Panic and yes, even Futureman.

There are few surprises in the type of sound these guys achieve – in other words, it stays firmly rooted in standard, swampy, funk-rock – but that’s not automatically a bad thing. There’s an obvious sympatico between the members that allows for some fairly exploratory risk-taking in their originals, and they’re also not afraid to tackle some truly challenging syncopations and arrangements of tunes by their acknowledged musical heroes.

While they have played JJ Cagney’s in the past, this show at the newly retooled Savannah Blues should prove an interesting experiment in demographic cross-pollination.

Fri., Savannah Blues.

The Kickass, Unpersons, Baroness

Here’s a triple bill that should burn itself into your brain, if not your eardrums.

Baroness has quickly amassed one of the most vocal and supportive word-of-mouth buzzes of any local hard rock band in recent memory. They’re known for a high-energy approach to live performance that seems to make converts at each stop along their recent tours.

Unpersons, – the second local act on the bill – are following in the tradition of underground Savannah icons like Damad and Kylesa by recording in Columbia, S.C., and signing to the established Über-heavy indie label At A Loss Recordings. They consider themselves a punk band mostly in spirit, as their sound has eclipsed traditional punk rock.

Headliners The Kickass, however, deliver all that their name implies, and perhaps a little more. An astonishingly dexterous and challenging instrumental trio, this Greenville, N.C., powerhouse combines the go-for-broke insanity of early Primus with the Bolivian marching powder fury of The Knack circa 1980 (yes, that Knack). Their tunes are built around a furious rhythmic ruckus that finds the tricky rat-maze hallmarks of math rock residing comfortably alongside the fingertapping of ‘80s metal throwbacks like Yngwie Malmsteen.

This band has the potential to be many things to many people, so those who appreciate King Crimson and Gentle Giant may dig them as well as fans of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, and even King’s X. Sat., The Jinx.