Rachel Z: Everlasting (2004)
If one has little sympathy for the jazzification of popular music, low tolerance for jazzified swinging musicality for its own sake, outright disgust for anything other than scorching tempos or abstraction for its own sake, derision for space and breaths of cooled musical air between the polarities of accessible depth and potent fragility, then one should stay clear from Rachel Z. One has to wonder, however, if Z's craft would get more attention than it does among some of the self-important and self-appointed so-called jazz intelligentsia were she butt-ugly, the so-called politically correct type of black or Hispanic, fat, angry, not associated with figures such as Peter Gabriel, and with a more blasé approach to her marketing and merchandising.
In Everlasting, Z deals with material from popular artists such as Sting, Mick Jagger, Peter Gabriel and George Harrison, among others. The notion, however, that jazzifying popular musical repertoire would actually succeed in attracting a younger audience to jazz might very well be a venerable-yet-tiresome canard that ought to be disposed off already. Then again, so what? Jazz isn't and hasn't ever been impervious to contact with more popular musical genres; and we all come ahead when artists mine different sources for their works, aside from the unarguable fact that such are inevitable sociological processes.
Soundgarden's hit "Black Hole Sun" is plaintively introduced, reharmonizing its melody, albeit rapidly abandoning angst for a swinging performance that features Z's range to great effect. The pianist's companions, Bobbie Rae on drumswho takes a brief solo towards the endand Tony Levin on bass, enhance Z with profound simplicity in their accompaniment.
"Mortal" is an airy short piece full of suggestive harmonic and percussive coloration from bass and drums as Z is engaged with deceptively easy to follow changes and progressions as a means of introducingperhaps as a production afterthought"Ring of Fire." It works rather well as the latter is engagingly melodic, whilst featuring a variegated swing, with portions of temporal and methodical sparsement.
"Kid Charlemagne" delves into guitar bass hip-driven-coolness, with the enriched melodicism that characterizes much of Z's playing. A deft touch, gorgeous sound, finesse, and light percussive mischievousness are also evident in this interpretation. Much of the same occurs in "Kiss of Life." The other kiss of this production, "Kiss From a Rose," is akin to the rose petal sprinkling scene in American Beauty featuring Mena Suvari.
In a November 2003 Keyboard interview, speaking of Wayne Shorter, Danilo Pérez said: "From Wayne I learned how to follow a beautiful melody with harmonies and rhythms that bring out its intention." Such effective dialoguing, with the bulk of the popular source material of this recording, is what one finds in Everlasting at the hands of Z and company. One caveat, though: Rachel Z's intentions are decidedly jazz-oriented, the original musical intentions of the source material notwithstanding.
Visit Rachel Z on the web.
Track Listing: 1. Here Comes the Sun (G. Harrison) 2. Kiss From a Rose (S. Seal) 3. Interlude (R. Nicolazzo/B. Rae) 4. Mortal (R. Nicolazzo/B. Rae) 5. Ring of Fire (J. Cash/M. Kilgore) 6. Wild Horses (M. Jagger/K. Richard) 7. Black Hole Sun (C. Cornell) 8. Fields of Gold (Sting) 9. Kid Charlemagne (W. Becker/D. Fagen) 10. One Time (A. Belew/W. Brudord/R. Fripp/T. Levin/P. Mastelotto) 11. Tonight Tonight (W.P. Corgan) 12. Kiss of Life (S. Adu/P. Denman/A. Hale/S Matthewman) 13. Interlude (R. Nicolazzo/B. Rae) 14. Red Rain (P. Gabriel)
Personnel: Rachel Z-Piano. Tony Levin-Bass. Bobbie Rae-Drums.