Person and band teach music mastery

By Matt Lee

Eric Person, along with his band Meta-Four, is on a mission in music.

On Wednesday, Eric Person and his group will provide a Meta-Four Masterclass for NIU students and on the same night, will also hold two separate shows at The House Café, 263 E. Lincoln Highway.

For nearly two years, Person and Meta-Four have chosen to spread their knowledge to musicians all over the world through a Meta-Four Masterclass. This class, which is typically offered to students at colleges and universities, depicts the manner in which Meta-Four does things as a band.

Person, born in St. Louis, started playing the saxophone when he was seven years old. Over the years, Person has managed to create quite a resumé for himself. He was a pivotal member of the Dave Holland Quartet and has played with McCoy Turner, Chico Hamilton and Ronald Shannon Jackson.

According to Person, most of his musical inspirations when he was growing up came from his father and his father’s playing career.

“Music has been a part of my life for so long,” Person said. “My father was a saxophone player in the St. Louis area. He’d play jazz records for me, and when he’d play for me, he would improvise.”

Person, who does a lot of composing and plays both alto and soprano saxophones, is featured as a leader and sideman on more than 30 recordings. After countless years of making a name for himself, Person eventually went on to become the leader of Meta-Four in 1999. Since then, the group has released four albums, including “Arrival,” “More Tales To Tell,” “Extra Pressure” and the group’s latest album, “Live At Big Sur.”

“We stress the foundation of being a band,” Person said. “I love to teach. I want more people to know what I’m doing, and it would be better to get more people into the music.”

Person and Meta-Four continue to develop their new sound. For the people who attend Meta-Four’s shows, Person said they should expect to hear a musical foundation based on artists like Miles Davis.

The current lineup in Meta-Four, according to the group’s Web site, is pianist John Esposito, bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Pete O’Brian.

Wednesday will be the first time Person and Meta-Four have played The House Café.

“[People seem to be] pretty interested in the show,” said John Ugolini, booking agent for The House Café.

Tickets for the 9:30 and 11 p.m. shows will only be available at the door.