The Trio of OZ – O for drummer Omar Hakim and Z for pianist Rachel Z, with Solomon Dorsey on bass at this gig – interpret rock and pop classics through the intricacies of the classic jazz piano trio. In this, they follow the likes of Brad Meldau and Herbie Hancock in trying to match the amplified power of a tightly arranged song with the energy of devious jazz complexity. The Trio of OZ delivered rocky versions of songs by the likes of the Killers and Depeche Mode and then darted off into straightahead modern jazz.
The first set launched the Smiths’ “There is a Light” with a deft roll round the drum kit, whipped the theme through several musical genres and then darted into a ferociously fast swing. Rachel Z injected Coldplay’s “Lost” with sly funky infusions and a sudden splurge of notes, then a introduction of impressionist arpeggios introduced Sting’s “King of Pain”.
There was much jazz to admire! Rachel Z is a strong technician and Hakim gave a masterclass in precision, sound and melodic construction. And the jazz repertoire was not overlooked. Wayne Shorter’s “ESP” and the standard “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” were imaginatively stretched so that the themes emerged gradually. There were beautifully articulated drum showcases, inventive up-tempo piano and intriguing bass solos. And both sets finished with tightly argued polyrhythmic jigsaws, the first after a cannily counted few bars of silence, the second after Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.”