German-born composer, arranger and orchestrator Claus Ogerman first came to my attention via the stunning work he did with people like George Benson, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra, Diana Krall and Oscar Peterson. I've always been a sucker for strings and I think the man is simply awesome. At the same time, to me, Michael Brecker is simply one of the best tenor saxophonists that ever lived.
When I came across this on Amazon a few years ago and saw that it not only featured both of the above named but also people like Marcus Miller, Eddie Gomez and Steve Gadd, I didn't even bother to listen to soundclips. I just ordered it.
The stuff on here is transcendent. The title track alone is like the soundtrack to a pleasant afternoon nap but it's when "Habanera" begins that one begins to realise the full richness of the musical tapestry on offer here. Gadd, with an assured backbeat, particularly shines on this one, as does Miller, as always.
Another standout track is "Nightwings" and Warren Bernhardt performs a stunning solo on the keys.
"In The Presence And Absence of Each Other (Part 1)" is another favourite with an easy-to-hum-along-to refrain, with great drum patterns from Gadd and cool bass lines from Miller. Guitarist Buzz Feiten (who my good buddy André has just been telling me to watch out for) plays on the track but he doesn't get a solo and you have to really listen out to hear him, which is a bit of a shame. I also couldn't find any details of the orchestration personnel on the inner-sleeve notes, which I found slightly disappointing.
Gutarist John Tropea and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa also play on the album.
All compositions are by Ogerman and are the relaxing kind of fare that's ideal for soothing nerves that might be frayed by the stresses of everyday modern living. The album is produced by the legendary Tommy LiPuma and recorded by Al Schmitt. It's a sonic and musical delight and Brecker is incredibly expressive here. Sax and strings don't tend to work together very well as a rule but these two make it work. If you ever wanted to hear a saxophone weep (with both sadness and joy), check this one out. I think any Michael Brecker fan will appreciate this but they must be also big fan of orchestration, I think.
But if you do like it, or already own it, you may want to also consider Vince Mendoza's 1997 CD Epiphany, which features John Abercrombie, Michael Brecker, Peter Erskine, Marc Johnson, Joe Lovano, John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler and the London Symphony Orchestra. It has a very similar vibe, though slightly more exuberant in places, and although not many people have reviewed it here on Amazon (I haven't reviewed it myself either), it's one of my favourite albums ever. Go figure.