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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Just Between Friends

HighNote HCD 7188




1. How Deep is the Ocean
2. You’ve Changed
3. Blueberry Hill
4. Darn That Dream
5. Meditation
6. Lover Man
7. Lover Come Back to Me
8. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
9. Always
10. Alone Together

Houston Person - Tenor sax
Ron Carter - Bass


I have already praised on this website a duet album with tenorist Houston Person joined by pianist Bill Charlap. Now here is Houston duetting with one of the world's most renowned bassists: Ron Carter. This may seem more difficult than a sax-piano duet, but Ron Carter has such a full, resonant sound that he easily fills any gaps. That full tone can be heard right from the first track - How Deep is the Ocean, where Carter's sturdily walking bass accompanies Person's heartfelt solo (as deep as the ocean) - and then the bassist plays an equally sturdy solo.

The tempo slows down for You've Changed, where Houston's soulful playing is ideally backed by Carter's sensitive bass. Ron starts Blueberry Hill off with a countrified rhythm which puts plenty of impetus behind the tenor sax, and the bassist's glissandi are a wonder to hear.

And so the album continues, from one delightful standard to another, with neither player putting a foot wrong but responding to one another with the mutual respect that the best jazz musicians have for one another. Ron and Houston have been playing together since the 1970s, united by a love for jazz standards and also a fascination with words, leading to plentiful games of Scrabble. This is actually the fourth duo recording by the two men - and their togetherness is evident. Just listen to the way they bring Meditation to a close: ending telepathically at exactly the same moment; or the way that Ron Carter plays the melody of Polka Dots and Moonbeams, with Houston only filling in the middle eight; or how the duettists make Always swing without any help from a drummer.

It is always difficult to know if one has found the perfect jazz album but I think this is the real thing.

Tony Augarde


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