Houston Person

Just Between Friends

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Immediately, Houston Person's saxophone and Ron Carter's bass meld so fluidly and effortlessly -- and create such a complete picture -- that it's easy to forget that they are the only two musicians playing. Drums are not missed, nor are piano, horns, or anything else: Person and Carter's communication skills here, as on their previous outings together, are never in doubt; they're "always" in perfect sync. They take on the standards here, and though most of these ten tracks have been recorded to death by other jazz artists, the duo's approach is original and honest enough that the songs sound fresh. "Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?)" is smooth, soft, and sexy; Irving Berlin's "Always" swings even if it never quite reaches swing tempo; and "Blueberry Hill" is playful and sweet. "Meditation," an Antonio Carlos Jobim tune, proves that bossa nova requires only the most minimal of instrumentation in order for its free-swaying tropical lilt to feel whole. The opening "How Deep Is the Ocean," another Berlin classic, sets the mood by establishing that melody and rhythm are never far apart -- neither musician is in any great hurry here and never eager to dominate or go outside of the songs' stated bounds. It's a collaboration in the truest sense, one in which emotion and the integrity of the material and arrangements trounce showboating.

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