Jacky Terrason & Cassandra Wilson
Rendezvous (Blue Note Records)

By Keith H. Brown

The cover photo of Rendezvous depicts a dark, isolated European street, 'round 'bout midnight, cars slick from a night's rain -- all bathed in a greenish tint, punctuated by occasional warmth of red street lights.

There could be no better visual introduction for the music contained within. Singer Cassandra Wilson though given second billing, is in her element, and the songs, mostly standards, are tailored to her talents. An ultra moody "Tennessee Waltz," for instance, is given the Cassandra Treatment. It's slowed down to a near crawl, every word stretched and enunciated to reveal imagined hidden meanings. Jacky Terrason, a piano prodigy who won the prestigious Thelonious Monk competition, is a worthy match and no stranger to accompanying gifted vocalists. A protégé' of Betty Carter, Terrason cut his teeth a long time ago. Still, judging from a superior reading of Herbie Haddock's' "Chan's Song" also included, he's no slouch as a solo player, either.

The two clearly are fully aware of one another's talents and mesh especially well on a somber "Tea For Two," which features a clever arrangement colored with percussion by Mino Cinelo. This collaboration should put Wilson back on track with critics who criticize her unconventional choices for material on her own recordings, like last years' acclaimed Full Moon Daughter, wherein she dared to cover a Monkees' tune.

Bill Shoemaker wrote, "You have to wonder if (writers) are listening to the music or looking at the pictures." Wilson may indeed be a looker, but with talent like hers, looks or no, she'd still be going places. Her latest, Rendezvous, succeeds at fulfilling the mood promised on its cover art and much more.