Danilo Perez – Across the Crystal Sea – Orch. arr. & conducted by Claus Ogerman – Decca/Emarcy Records

by | Aug 30, 2008 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Danilo Perez – Across the Crystal Sea – Orch. arr. & conducted by Claus Ogerman – Decca/Emarcy Records B0011119-02 *****:

(Danilo Perez, piano; Christian McBride, bass; Lewis Nash, drums; Luis Quintero, percussion; Bruce Dukov, Orch. concertmaster; Cassandra Wilson, vocals on tr. 3 & 6)

Danilo Perez is a versatile musician from Panama who has been credited by the New York Times for no less than “the musicological rethinking of jazz.”  His career as pianist and bandleader has blended the music of the Americas with world music, creating a whole new avenue of Latin jazz in the process. He made his album debut in 1993 after playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Lacy, Joe Lovano and many others. He founded the Panama Jazz Festival and is currently Ambassador of Goodwill for UNICEF.

His newest album combines his vast talents with those of producer Tommy Lipuma and composer-arranger Claus Ogerman.  The latter has created swinging arrangements for piano, sidemen and orchestra (and in two cases with vocals) – five of them using themes from well-known classical composers. The closing track is one of Ogerman’s own compositions.  Some of the highlights include a lovely setting for Cassandra Wilson of Lazy Afternoon, from the musical Golden Apple. Ogerman’s settings of both the Falla and Rachmaninoff themes are fresh and attractive; I’m sure Perez’ improvisational chops are also in evidence here, making a perfect package.  The Latin element is quite subdued on most of the tracks; this is just terrific genre-busting music-making.

Across the Crystal Sea (after a theme by Hugo Distler), Rays and Shadows (after a theme by Sibelius), Lazy Afternoon (Latouche-Moross), The Purple Condor (after a theme by Falla), If I Forget You (after a theme by Rachmaninoff), My Heart Sings (Rome-Blanncilain-Herpin), The Saga of Rita Joe (after a theme by Massenet, Another Autumn (Ogerman)

 – John Sunier

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