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Bebop - Released July 26, 2019 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released June 17, 2016 | HighNote Records

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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 November 10, 2017 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released September 18, 1998 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released May 6, 2008 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released September 17, 1999 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released April 7, 2000 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released June 21, 2002 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released October 9, 2012 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released August 1, 2006 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released October 21, 2014 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released October 22, 2013 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released October 23, 2015 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released March 15, 1997 | HighNote Records

Most of Houston Person's late-'90s albums are interchangeable collections of standards recorded with a small combo (the rhythm section led by either a piano or an organ, depending on Person's whim) and featuring Person's sterling tenor saxophone solos on top of a conservative backing. 1997's Person-ified is one of the string, but it's more interesting than some due to a slightly more adventurous taste in song selection. The track listing still leans heavily toward standards, but this time, Person has reached a bit deeper than usual into the great songbooks, coming up with somewhat less-obvious choices like "There's a Small Hotel," "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," and "I'll Never Stop Loving You," all of which are excellent. Even oddball choices like Mr. Acker Bilk's novelty trad jazz hit "Stranger on the Shore" and the gospel-tinged coda "May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You" sound great. His backing combo is fairly anonymous, but never simply dull, and even at that, it means that Person's remarkable, underrated tenor playing is always front and center. Not bad at all. ~ Stewart Mason
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Bebop - Released November 15, 2001 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released October 23, 2009 | HighNote Records

Not all mellow, Houston Person's tribute to the softer side of jazz has its moments based on the laid-back timbre of his soul rather than a program consisting of only ballads. The tenor sax he wields certainly reflects the tradition established by Ben Webster in its soul-drenched tone, but is not as vocally pronounced or vibrato-driven. The quite capable pianist John Di Martino is the one whose more enunciated notions are harnessed, while tasteful guitar by the underrated James Chirillo rings out in acceptance of Person's embraceable hues. In a program of standards and two blues jams, Person rounds into shape this quintet of true professionals to render themes that are harder to play slow than fast. The slower material includes the regretful, throaty ballad "Too Late Now," the totally restrained "To Each His Own," a poignant "Two Different Worlds," and the deep, mature take of "God Bless the Child." Ever cognizant of blue moods, Person is masterful in expressing his innermost heartfelt feelings, as on the easy swinger and obvious choice for this date, Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone." Then there's "Blues in the A.M.," a basic jam with Ray Drummond's bass leading out with drummer Lewis Nash in an uptown style as Chirillo's guitar states its wise, sophisticated case. The most upbeat number is the closer, the fast hard bop three-minute quickie "Lester Leaps In," while in midtempo form, the opener, Bobby Hebb's "Sunny," is a typical choice. Conversely, the usual ballad "Who Can I Turn To?" is a bit amped up. Di Martino and Chirillo are known to kick things up several notches, but here are great tastemakers who fully understand Person's persona and growing importance as one who prefers an understated approach. That's not to say this marvelous tenor saxophonist has depreciated his talent as an adept technician, but at this point in his career he prefers this music on the mellow side, and has no problem staying interested in that mood, no matter the tempo. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Bebop - Released September 7, 2004 | HighNote Records

One of the longest-lasting and critically lauded partnerships in jazz, the duo of vocalist Etta Jones and tenor saxophonist Houston Person ran from a concert in 1968 to Jones' death in 2001 on the same day their last album together, Etta Jones Sings Lady Day, was released. In tribute to Jones, To Etta With Love finds Person digging into various standards that Jones loved throughout her career. There is a melancholy, heartbreaking quality to these tracks. The fact that liner notes are included on an album without a vocalist only serves to further underline how much Jones' personality and style inform every note Person plays. The journeyman's warm, burnished tenor sound veritably weeps and more often soars through such classics as "Don't Go to Strangers," "For All We Know," and "Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You." Backing Person here are the always sensitive talents of pianist Stan Hope, guitarist Paul Bollenback, bassist Per-Ola Gadd, and drummer Chip White. Much like the singer Person knew, To Etta With Love is an understated, moving, and swinging elegy. ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released October 11, 2011 | HighNote Records

Houston Person is a very versatile veteran tenor saxophonist who tends to get overlooked in critics' polls, yet his extensive musical resumé is ample proof that he is a jazz master. This 2011 session ranges from a duet to septet, with everyone playing compact solos, keeping all but one under the six-minute mark, a lost art in modern jazz. The rhythm section includes pianist John Di Martino (who regularly works with the leader), bassist Ray Drummond, and drummer Lewis Nash (whose respective resumés are likely as long as Person's), seven-string guitarist Howard Alden, plus cornetist Warren Vaché and trombonist Mark Patterson. Two less familiar jazz works stand out. The disc opens with the full septet playing a snappy rendition of Shirley Scott's "Blues Everywhere," with Person, Vaché, Patterson, Alden, and Di Martino all featured. Elmo Hope's "So Nice" is a perfect example of a midtempo bop gem, with a beautifully understated solo by Di Martino, Patterson's expressive chops, and the leader's buoyant, soulful tenor. There are several standards, including a richly textured "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" with Patterson's muted horn providing the perfect follow-up to Person's mellow opening statement, while the lush "Easy Living" suggests a late-night romantic atmosphere. The solo spotlight is equally shared by Vaché and Person in the shimmering, deliberate treatment of Duke Ellington's gorgeous "All Too Soon." Ironically, the longest track is a sensitive duet by Person and Di Martino, exploring a pair of Stephen Sondheim's show tunes, "Small World" and "Anyone Can Whistle." Highly recommended. ~ Ken Dryden
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Bebop - Released October 5, 2010 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released January 23, 1987 | Savoy