207

Rachel Z: On The Milky Way Express

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Rachel Z is a lot shorter than I expected her to be. The former Ms. Nicolazzo, henceforth the ‘Z,’ should be taller, much taller, a height equal to her ambitious sound. The once classical piano student turned jazz pianist, graduated from the New England Conservatory and set about playing music both inside and outside the jazz tradition. That simply means she has led two careers, one in acoustic post bop-oriented jazz and another in jazz-fusion. Playing with such diverse artists and groups as Najee, Mike Mainieri, Special EFX, Larry Coryell, and Wayne Shorter for whom this recording is all about.

Like Shorter, Rachael Z’s jaunts between acoustic and electric jazz have worried listeners. Maybe it’s the fallout from the Marsalis revolution that causes the rigid categorization in which we get trapped. Face it, we’ll never end the smooth-jazz vs. creative-music war and this disc doesn’t attempt such a feat. Rachel Z sticks to acoustic piano throughout (as does her bandmates, except one electric bass track).

The music, by now familiar to Shorter fans, gets a respectful yet vigorous workout. “Pinocchio” from Miles Davis’ Neffertitti opens the disc. Z charts a path not unlike say; Herbie Hancock mixed with a little Keith Jarrett. Her intelligence at the keys is only rivaled by the bands rhythmic nature. It is a delight to hear Shorter’s compositions in this trio context. Bassist Miriam Sullivan and drummer Allison Miller make Rachel Z’s band more than just an all-girl oddity. This is a tight working band (that just happens to be comprised of women). They collectively know Wayne Shorter’s music inside and out. They track the familiar “El Gaucho” and “Footprints.” Taking “Dolores” at a hurried pace to raise the blood pressure and create a tension/resolve that is only possible with a working band. The band also takes on Shorter’s recent composition “Black Swan In Memory Of Portly” from Highlife, a song you might not be familiar with. She takes it on peaceful terms, her solo piano echoes a hint of her classical past plus a gospel-tinged soulfulness.

The Z trio has made a significant recording. Notable for her blossoming voice, Shorter’s composing, and the establishment of women in their rightful place on the bandstand.


Track Listing: Pinocchio; El Gaucho; Fall; Footprints; Dolores; Iris; Black Nile; Witch Hunt; Black Swan In Memory Of Portly; Three Marias; Milkyway.

Personnel: Rachel Z

Title: On The Milky Way Express | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Tone Center


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Two in a Box CD/LP/Track Review Two in a Box
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Discussions CD/LP/Track Review Discussions
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Small Town" CD/LP/Track Review Small Town
by John Kelman
Published: May 19, 2017
Read "December Avenue" CD/LP/Track Review December Avenue
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "Jazz Jukebox" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Jukebox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Meditations on Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Meditations on Freedom
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "Someone Else" CD/LP/Track Review Someone Else
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "Flux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 26, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.