Ostensibly, this is a collection of covers celebrating what can be done with good music in the hands of a master player. So, yeah, it is indeed that, but, no, no it's not, not really. The Trio of Oz is actually proof positive and adamantine that Rachel Z has become a forefront pianist and in such a way as may have been previously unexpected. She's been a key adjunct for Peter Gabriel, Vertu, and others, but this disc is completely outside that realm and experience. The success of *Trio*, it may shock you to discover, has zero to do with it being a gatherum of compositions by Stone Temple Pilots, The Police, Depeche Mode, and others, and everything to do with the fact that it's a brisk, complex, heady exposition by a keyboardist who has joined the ranks of the greats.
I'm quite serious. Being an aficionado of tribute discs and such, I was more than happy to know of this release, but jaw dropped to floor when I heard what was really therein. Amid a strong trio format (Omar Hakim on dizzying drums and Maeve Royce playing a solid trad-jazz groove-time bass a bit a la Ron Carter), Z displays a constant mode of perfection and ingenuity that will sit ECM / CTI / KUDU / Blue Note fans up in their seats. The songs sound not like chart material at all but rather as if Chick Corea, Oscar Peterson, and Bill Evans got together to create a set of stunners, gobbled up and redefined through Z's hands.
'Dazzling' is hardly the word amid a snowstorm of crystalline prowess possessing infinite permutations. Hakim is obviously second seeded and carries off the task as fluently as a Jack DeJohnette might, though in a vocabulary all Omar's own. Thus, the true rhythm section is Ms. Royce, who holds the bottom line with quiet strength, bringing in variations but ceding Z and Hakim the clear foreground. Forget all Rachel's past achievements, which are quite impressive, because she's her own woman now, and she sure as hell ain't the next Suzanne Cianni or Liz Story, adeptly crushing those two fragile flowers beneath sheer daunting finesse.
Thus, sure, dig Trio for its rather unusual tributary extrapolations if ya want, 'cause that'll get the disc through your door, but love it for its virtuosity and exquisite instrumentalism, the like of which, as I've denoted, you're not going to easily re-locate save through harking back to the august.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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