Houston Person & Ron Carter – Remember Love
(Highnote HCD 7315. CD review by Mark McKergow)
Veteran tenor saxophonist Houston Person and double bass virtuoso Ron Carter set down an atmospheric set of standards performed with class, understatement and no little sophistication. This is Person and Carter’s sixth duo CD, and the pair gel instantly into a gentle yet persuasive partnership.
Houston Person has released many CDs as a band leader, as well as recording with singer Etta Jones and soul-jazz organ legends Charles Earland and Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes among many others. His tone is rich, his style is precise, and a joy to hear. Ron Carter surely needs no introduction – he was five years with Miles Davis in the 1960s, and a band leader including with a fascinating two-bass quartet with Milt Hinton I caught in New York in 1990. On top of that he’s been a sideman with nearly everyone and is a by-word for classy double bass in anyone’s book. Both Person and Carter are now the their 80s, and it is inspiring to hear both still on great form on this recording.
The format is simple – take ten standards and perform as a duet. The opening Love Is Here To Stay opens with Person’s warm and up-close tenor tone, before Carter enters to introduce the tempo. In a kind of role reversal, it’s Carter who provides most of the intrigue – Person sticks pretty close to the chords in his well-crafted solos, but the bass catches the ear again and again with variations, grace notes, tempo switches, accidentals and other devices, even when accompanying. And of course Carter also takes his turn alone, nudging a quote from Bizet into his opening solo.
What this CD is really about is a masterclass in sensitive and creative double bass playing. Again and again Carter’s supple tone provides an unexpected turn or rhythmic lift. Whether it’s lifting lines from Night In Tunisia behind Person’s solo on My One And Only Love, laying it down on his own Blues For D.P. (a dedication to bebop pianist Duke Pearson who died in 1980) or romping along on The Way You Look Tonight, Carter seems always to have something interesting to say.
Person gets to perform his own tune Why Not, and the two musicians each take a solo track – Carter’s You Are My Sunshine drips with harmonics and whole-hearted improvisation, close to six minutes that flies by. Person gives Without A Song a fairly straight solo reading to bring the album to a close. If I was wanting a beautifully subtle jazz record for late-night listening (or if I were studying double bass) I’d be putting this CD on repeat.