Houston Person & Ron Carter

Remember Love
(HighNote)

Tenor saxophonist Houston Person and bassist Ron Carter first played together as a duo on their 1990 standards album, Something In Common (Muse). What these two distinguished players had in common then was a die-hard appreciation for the musical alchemy behind well-crafted standards. What they have in common now is six albums and nearly 30 years of collaboration on this voluptuous material, and Remember Love marks the next installment of their noteworthy oeuvre.

To the extent that some contemporary jazz eschews comely melodies and their related harmonic underpinnings, here Person and Carter embrace them. The tempos are measured and the arrangements spacious, so there’s no missing the intention behind their musical choices: to transmute familiar melodies into the most golden tones possible. For the listener, this means that on Duke Ellington’s “Day Dream,” the minor intervals sound deeper; on Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” the walking bass seems jauntier; and on Luiz Bonfá’s “Gentle Rain,” the bossa feels more kinetic. Purity, not profusion.

No tunes here are purer than the two solo tracks. Person’s so faithful to the melody on Vincent Youmans’ “Without A Song” that barely a note deviates; what stands out is his affinity for gospel and r&b. Carter’s take on “You Are My Sunshine” is different—from the head of this simple folk tune, he launches into a cavalcade of improvised riffs. Two contrasting approaches, but one takeaway. “You hear different things when it’s just the melody,” Person said in the liner notes. “A single melody can be so powerful.”