Jacky Terrasson and Cassandra Wilson: Rendezvous

In these alarmingly noisy times, I cling to what now passes as something of an antiquated mantra-simplicity is elegance. The work of Lester Young, in particular, remains a guidepost for me. Pres always played only what was necessary, nothing more, nothing less.

That sensibility informs this prized collaboration, from the Greek goddess of vocal creativity, Cassandra Wilson, and the heir apparent to the piano tradition of Herbie Hancock, Jacky Terrasson. Joined by bassist Lonnie Plaxico and percussionist Mino Cinelu, they reinterpret nine standards and Hancock’s “Chan’s Song.” In this case, reinterpretation is not just a look back but startlingly imaginative reworkings.

Terrasson, an acknowledged Hancock afficionado also wrote “Chicago 1987,” a bluesy solo piano showcase that closes the recording. “Chan’s Song,” Hancock’s most memorable composition of the ’80s, is a trio track with bassist Kenny Davis replacing Plaxico and Terrasson, doubling on Wurlitzer electric piano. No overdubs though, Terrasson plays with one hand acoustic, and one on the Wurlitzer.

Wilson is simply brilliant, her deep, smoky voice caressing each note and syllable. When she chooses, she creates immense emotional tension, just by holding back. In just a few short years, Cassandra Wilson has become the voice of the era and certain to be a major force in the 21st century.