German-born composer and arranger Claus Ogerman, born in 1930, must rank as one of the most versatile musicians of the twentieth century. When he was at his peak in the 1970s, writing everything from ballet scores to arrangements for Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, diva Barbra Streisand, and jazz/R&B saxophonist George Benson, there was hardly a radio station on the dial where his music wasn't heard during the course of a typical day – and he's still quite active. The key to his success has been his ability to stay in the background behind the musician he's working with and yet create something distinctive. This 1982 collaboration with the late jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker is one of his most successful works, not least because the overlap between the extended harmonies of jazz and the chromaticism of the late German Romantic polyphony in which Ogerman was trained is large enough to allow Brecker to operate comfortably – his improvisations seem to grow naturally out of the background, and the intersections between jazz band and orchestral strings come more easily here than on almost any other crossover between jazz and classical music.
French piano star Jean Yves Thibaudet is joined by young Chinese violinist Yue Deng for this album of intimate classical music for piano and violin by the celebrated jazz composer/ arranger Claus Ogermann. Grammy Award Winner Claus Ogermann is a musician of rare breadth and versatility who has worked with all the great song stylists including Frank Sinatra, Stan Getz, George Benson, Nelson Riddle, Astrid Gilberto, Michael Brecker and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Well known for recent collaborations with Diana Krall (including the album The Look Of Love), Claus Ogermann has also written works performed by legendary pianists Bill Evans and Glenn Gould, and is the arranger of the classic recording of The Girl From Ipenema. Classical style has always been important to Ogermann, and his compositions include concertos-both classical and jazz- a song cycle (premiered by Brigitte Fasbaender and an orchestral suite commissioned for the American Ballet Theatre. Praised as "one of the most exciting talents before the public today," pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet is renowned for his eloquent phrasing, lustrous colors and brilliant technique. His poetic interpretations have won him a following throughout the United States and around the globe, having performed with virtually every major orchestra in the world. Yue Deng is one of today's outstanding Chinese violinists, having trained in China and at New York's Juilliard School.
Diana Krall is an attractive lady with a good voice who plays decent piano, but this somewhat ridiculously packaged Verve CD seems like an obvious attempt to turn her into a pop icon and sex symbol to boot. The bland arrangements by Claus Ogerman (who conducts the London Symphony Orchestra on each track) border on easy listening, while Krall and her various supporting musicians – including John Pisano, Russell Malone, Christian McBride, and Peter Erskine (among others) – clearly seem stifled by their respective roles. There are plenty of strong compositions here, including standards like "I Remember You," "The Night We Called It a Day," and "I Get Along Without You Very Well," but the unimaginative and often syrupy charts take their toll on the performances.
On two of the songs included on Tequila, "Tequila" and "The Thumb," Wes Montgomery had an opportunity to jam a bit while backed just by bassist Ron Carter, drummer Grady Tate and the congas of Ray Barretto. The other six selections utilize a string section arranged by Claus Ogerman but, even with a throwaway version of "What the World Needs Now Is Love," there are memorable renditions of "Bumpin' on Sunset" and "Insensatez" that uplift this album quite a bit beyond the guitarist's later A&M recordings.