Danilo Perez: Across the Crystal Sea (2008)
Ogerman, who's worked with everyone from Antonio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra and Stan Getz over a 50-year career, wrote most of the tunes here, basing them on classical themes by Jules Massenet, Sergei Rachmaninoff and others. Although this is a decidedly low-key, vaguely tropical affair, there are many stirring moments, particularly in the title composition, based on a theme by Hugo Distler, and the beautiful "Rays and Shadows," inspired by Jean Sibelius.
It helps that Perez, a mainstay of Wayne Shorter's quartet, has seasoned pros like bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash, along with percussionist Luis Quintero, to keep the mood from slipping from relaxed to drowsy. The enchanting vocalist Cassandra Wilson, herself no stranger to slow tempos, perfectly complements the rest of the cast on two standards, "Lazy Afternoon" and "(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings."
Track Listing: Across the Crystal Sea; Rays and Shadows; Lazy Afternoon; The Purple Condor; If I Forget You; (All of a sudden) My Heart Sings; The Saga of Rita Joe; Another Autumn.
Personnel: Danilo Perez: piano; Christian McBride: bass; Lewis Nash: drums; Luis Quintero: percussion; Cassandra Wilson: vocals; orchestra conducted by Claus Ogerman.