The Trio of Oz: The Trio of Oz
The Trio of Oz is Rachel Z (piano), Omar Hakim (drums) and Maeve Royce (acoustic bass). The trio produces a full rich sound that will have all jazz fans reaching for their wallets. This may in fact be my favourite jazz CD this year and when you look at the players it is not hard to see why.
Omar Hakim has been a top session musician for a number of years and has worked with a wide range of artists including Weather Report, Sting, Miles Davis and David Bowie. He is one of the best drummers around and he shows his skill throughout The Trio of Oz.
Rachel Z, otherwise known as Rachel Nicolazzo, started classical piano lessons at the age of eleven and has worked with a number of artists including Wayne Shorter, Peter Gabriel and Steps Ahead. Her energetic playing is both creative and improvisational and generally excellent throughout.
Maeve Royce has been playing with Rachel for the past five years and the chemistry between them is palpable. She is a fantastic bass player and the fact she is only twenty-two years of age is all the more impression as she plays as good or better than musicians many years her senior. She is the final piece of the puzzle and a perfect fit for this trio’s version of modern jazz.
What makes this album a little different is the choice of songs the trio chose to tackle. Instead of the usual standards of the past, they have mostly reworked recent rock and pop compositions, making this a completely refreshing and rewarding listen. Although I encourage rock/pop fans to give this a listen, this is still a jazz recording through and through, albeit a very good one.
The album begins with Alice in Chain’s “Angry Chair” displaying Hakim’s sensational drum skills, his use of the snare adds another dimension to the sound and Rachel’s piano adds an element of darkness. Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart” retains the moodiness of the original with complex drum patterns and an off kilter piano melody that is decidedly fresh and just a little dark. “Lost”, one of my favourite Coldplay songs, displays the same haunting melody as the original but the musicianship is raised a few notches especially with Royce’s haunting bow work and the jazzified version of The Killer’s “When You Were Young” is another song that works remarkably well in this format. Royce’s bow is again featured in New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle”. Her deeply rich tones are an ideal match for the electronic band’s moody trappings as they are on the Smith’s “There is a Light”, which may be her best performance here.
The album ends with Sting’s “King Of Pain” featuring Rachel’s ethereal piano flourishes. Her playing is as gentle as it is intense and a fine ending to what is an excellent CD.
In a year of some great jazz recordings this is my favourite. My only advice is to go out and get it as this is an essential release for all fans of jazz. Released on Ozmosis Records.
1. Angry Chair
2. Sour Girl
3. Det Tar Tid
4. I Will Possess Your Heart
6. When You Were Young
7. In Your Room
8. Bizarre Love Triangle
9. There is a Light
10. King of Pain
Added: November 22nd 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf