Albums

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Bebop - Released March 6, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released April 21, 2017 | Savant

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Bebop - Released March 24, 2017 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released February 24, 2017 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released June 17, 2016 | HighNote Records

Booklet
Saxophonist Houston Person and bassist Ron Carter have a duo partnership that goes back at least as far as their two 1990 recordings, Something in Common and Now's the Time! Since those albums, the legendary artists have released several more duo collaborations, each one a thoughtful and minimalist production showcasing their masterful command of jazz standards, blues, and bop. The duo's 2016 effort, the aptly titled Chemistry, is no exception and once again finds Person and Carter communing over a well-curated set of jazz standards. As on their previous albums, Chemistry is a deceptively simple conceit; just two jazz journeymen playing conversational duets on well-known jazz songs. At face value, that is certainly what you get. The deception enters into the equation with just how masterful and nuanced Person and Carter are in each song. Whether it's the way Carter anchors the duo's yearning reading of "But Beautiful" with his languorous, doomy basslines, or the way Person's languorous rubato introduction joins up with Carter on "Fools Rush In," they never fail to find surprising and deeply emotive ways to interpret each song. Similarly, cuts like the poignant "Blame It on My Youth" and the dewy-eyed "I Can't Get Started" are endearing romantic numbers that cradle the listener in the warmth of Person and Carter's warm tones. Elsewhere, they deliver a gleeful version of Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk," and summon the memory of Carter's former boss, trumpeter Miles Davis, with their jaunty take on "Bye Bye Blackbird." Ultimately, Chemistry is a lovely, heartfelt album of well-loved standards imbued with the duo's decades of experience. ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released May 20, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released April 21, 2015 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released October 21, 2014 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released May 20, 2014 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released June 25, 2013 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released June 25, 2013 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released March 26, 2013 | Savant

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Bebop - Released September 14, 2010 | Savant

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Bebop - Released September 8, 2009 | HighNote Records

The Art & Soul of Houston Person is a unique compilation. The great saxophonist has recorded as a leader for labels such as Prestige, 20th Century, Muse, Savant, and is currently with High Note, where this appears. His tenure at Prestige is the only one longer than this one. As such, this massive, three-disc collection is drawn from a dozen High Note albums cut in as many years. The unifying factor in these cuts is that they were not chosen randomly to include simply stellar performances, but from his wide-ranging interpretations on standards; in addition, they were all recorded by Rudy Van Gelder at his studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. There are 30 performances in all, including four that open disc one which are all new takes on tunes he'd tracked previously, but this time out with his current quartet of pianist John di Martino, bassist Jon Burr, and drummer Jerome Jennings. Some of the other players on this comp include pianists Bill Charlap, Stan Hope, and Richard Wyands, bassists Ray Drummond, Ron Carter, Per-Ola Gadd, Peter Washington, and George Kaye, drummers Grady Tate, Chip White, and Kenny Washington, and guitarists Russell Malone and Paul Bollenback. The readings of these tunes make for a very unified collection because no matter who the personnel are and what gifts they bring to the table, Person has a way of playing songs that not only retain their melody, but their melodic integrity; his is simply not interested in employing them as frameworks for showboat improvisation. His own inventiveness is in how warm and dignified a melodist he is. He sings through the horn with the emotional commitment of Ben Webster, the soul of Gene Ammons, and the studied elegance of Paul Quinichette and Frank Wess. Listeners will have a great time picking their favorites out of this morass of excellent material, but it is safe to say that Person makes virtually all of it compelling -- there isn't a dull second here. Whether it's "Sentimental Journey,"and "All The Things You Are," or "Blue Moon" and "Mack the Knife," these sides are drenched in classy sophistication and down-home soul. Highly recommended. ~ Thom Jurek
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Bebop - Released January 27, 2009 | HighNote Records

It is hard to believe that Ernestine Anderson was within a few months of her eightieth birthday at the time of this 2008 session, but she shows the wisdom of a veteran vocalist in her interpretations of this collection of standards, ballads, and pop songs, often proving that less is indeed more. Well complemented by tenor saxophonist Houston Person (who was an important presence on so many of the late vocalist Etta Jones' albums), pianist LaFayette Harris, bassist Chip Jackson, and drummer Willie Jones, Anderson sings with a confidence that makes each song sound like a first take. She masters the catchy midtempo setting of "Make Someone Happy," a piece often played painfully slow in order to get a sense of drama, but her upbeat treatment is a fine alternative. She knows how to sing a ballad, demonstrated in her richly textured and soulful rendition of the timeless "Skylark." She is equally at home with pop material like Leon Russell's "A Song for You" and her superb, very deliberate take of "Candy," with soulful fills inserted by Person. This is a potent effort by a singer who remains very much in her prime. ~ Ken Dryden
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Bebop - Released August 15, 2008 | Savant

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Bebop - Released June 13, 2008 | Savant

Pamela Luss' third CD for Savant is her most rewarding thus far. That is due to an inspired repertoire, her increasingly mature interpretations of lyrics, and an indescribable magic that occurs on most of these selections. Luss is a jazz singer who does not scat, she sticks to the lyrics, and she keeps her improvisations consistently melodic. The improvising is in her placement of notes and in the feeling that she gives to the words. While she at times displays a high voice, particularly during the first few selections of Magnet, at other times she sounds surprisingly comfortable in her lower register. Pianist John DiMartino, who contributed most of the arrangements for this project, is a major asset. The variety, which is emphasized in the arrangements, can be felt in a repertoire that ranges from a heartfelt "Why Did I Choose You" and the ironic "No, Not Much" to the sentimental "Glad to Be Unhappy," a slow ballad version of "Quiet Nights" (with no bossa nova in sight) and a cooking "More." Accompanied by a top-notch rhythm section (with three different bassists taking turns), Luss is also occasionally joined by a horn player (tenor great Houston Person is on six selections) and takes "No, Not Much" as a vocal duet with Freddy Cole. This well-conceived set is highly recommended. ~ Scott Yanow
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Bebop - Released March 7, 2008 | HighNote Records

This High Note release is a live recording of Mary Lou Williams at the Statler Hotel in Buffalo during the winter of 1976 accompanied by bassist Ronnie Boykins and drummer Roy Haynes. First off, the sound of the recording isn't perfect. These tapes were from a private collection and there is a noticeable amount of tape hiss and some crackle throughout. It hardly matters, though, because in spite of it, all three instruments can be heard with startling clarity and immediacy. The material, astonishingly enough, includes only one Williams' original. An accomplished composer, even a prolific one, Williams is heard here playing through tunes like Billy Taylor's "A Grand Night for Swinging" -- a tune she actually opens and closes with -- Vernon Duke and George Gershwin's "I Just Can't Get Started," "My Funny Valentine," Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol's "Caravan," W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues," and, compellingly, "Baby Man," which proceeds from it. Saxophonist John Stubblefield wrote the latter cut. This is poignant in that Williams was capable and indeed saw great value in celebrating the modernism of jazz as a fitting and necessary part of its evolution, just as certain critics as well as musicians were turning from it. The way both pieces are played here are startling, full of finesse, grand rhythmic interplay, and a jaw dropping harmonic reach by the pianist, who had been playing professionally for over 50 years at this point. Here she was still in charge and could front a rhythm section like this with the ease of total command and enjoy its sense of support and skittering improvisation. The only Williams' composition here is "Bag's Blues," a striking variation on Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove," the melody of which she quotes and harmonically extrapolates on from the very beginning of its performance. The final cut on the CD is a nearly five-minute interview with Williams that is interesting but needs only be heard once. This is a welcome and necessary entry in Williams catalog. ~ Thom Jurek
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Bebop - Released September 21, 2007 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released July 20, 2007 | HighNote Records

Gloria Lynne had her greatest fame during the first half of the 1960s when she recorded quite a few albums for the Everest label. A survivor, Lynne is still in excellent form on From My Heart to Yours, over 40 years later. Her voice remains powerful, soulful, and unwavering; she is not afraid to sing some ballads at a very slow tempo; and she finds surprising life in such usually unworthy material as "My Funny Valentine," "Evergreen," and "Shangri-La." When she tackles a much better song such as "Mountain Greenery" at a medium tempo, it gives one the feeling of exhilaration. Joined by a supportive rhythm section with David "Fathead" Newman's flute added on two numbers, Gloria Lynne has recorded what is arguably her finest album since the 1960s. ~ Scott Yanow