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.
It's hard to know what to think when jazz artists record popular songs. Are they recording them because they like the songs and think something new can be brought to them? Or are they hoping that by recording popular songs they too can become popular? Broken Windows, Empty Hallways includes two albums recorded by tenor Houston Person in 1972, the first of the same name and the second titled Sweet Buns & Barbeque. Both albums contain a number of songs that were popular at the time, from the soulful "Don't Mess With Bill" to John Lennon's "Imagine" to Webber-Rice's "Everything's Alright."
Neither extravagantly experimental nor conservative, The Golden Striker presents a befittingly mature, somewhat brooding collection of tunes. Working within a guitar trio format with pianist Mulgrew Miller and guitarist Russell Malone, Carter offers nine tracks which include four of his own compositions, as well as one each by his band-mates. In order to emulate a "club" atmosphere, Carter, Miller and Malone recorded with little rehearsal, and with two exceptions layed down each tune on first takes…
A series of duets with Ron Carter and French accordionist Richard Galliano. Not a common jazz instrument, the free-reed sound of the accordion on this recording is both subtle and lovely. Tempos range from ballads to medium, but tend to be on the slow side. Not breakthrough jazz, these duets (recorded live, in concert) are refreshing and what all good music should be, just good listening.
This double album is mostly recommended to lovers of bass solos. With Ron Carter functioning as the main soloist on piccolo bass, only the solos of pianist Kenny Barron offer a bit of contrast. Bassist Buster Williams and drummer Ben Riley, who complete the quartet, are mostly featured in support. These performances, which are well-played, are almost all quite long, so listeners who prefer more variety in their music are advised to look elsewhere.
Stardust is another satisfying record from Ron Carter, this one in part a tribute to the late Oscar Pettiford. Leading a quintet with Benny Golson on tenor, Joe Locke on vibes, Sir Roland Hanna on piano, and Lenny White on drums, Carter picks three choice tunes by Pettiford – the swing-to-tango "Tamalpais," the minor-key bop classic "Bohemia After Dark," and the masterfully simple "Blues in the Closet."