By Ralph Burnett
After years of dedicating his talent to students and professionals alike, drummer Steve Houghton has documented his own voice on his self-titled debut for the Bluemoon Signature Series (Bluemoon R2 79195). Audiences have heard Steve on stage with a stunning array of parishioners from big bands to symphony orchestras. Included in this list are band leaders Doc Severnson and Woody Herman, to the combos of Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Billy Taylor and Gary Burton. He has recorded with Joe Henderson, Paul Anka, Melissa Manchester, Johnny Mathis, Vicki Carr and many others.
As a percussion educator, Houghton conducts clinics and workshops throughout North America, Europe and Japan, serves as the National Percussion Chairman for the International Association of Jazz Educators, sits on the board of directors of the Percussion Arts Society, and teaches at M.I. (the Musicians' Institute) in Southern California. In addition, he has written four definitive texts for drummers: A Guide for the Modern Jazz Rhythm Section; Studio and Big Band Drumming; and Essential Styles for the Drummer and Bassists, Books I and II. Recently, Steve has introduced an audio and video tape series of drum and percussion solos. "Writing books and producing videos are becoming a bigger part of what I do," says Houghton, "and it's very rewarding because whenever I travel, people come up to me and say how much my materials have helped them."
For this project, Steve collaborated with a cadre of his favorite Los Angeles-based musicians including Billy Childs, Marc Johnson, Tom Warrington, Larry Koonse, and Emil Richards. The compositions range from originals by Kiinse, Warrington and Childs to pieces by jazz legends Lee Morgan, Charlie Haden, Sam Rivers and Bill Evans. "I'm not a composer per se," Houghton explains, "but I do know the different settings that I like and I do enjoy collaborating with people in a variety of contexts. We came up with some music that was fun to play and we did some tunes that are a little bit obscure."