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Dept. of Good and Evil feat. Rachel Z: Dept. of Good and Evil

The name Rachel Z should be no stranger to fusion and prog fans, as the gifted pianist/keyboard player has recorded and performed with the likes of Al DiMeola, Steps Ahead, Larry Coryell, Special EFX, Angela Bofill, Wayne Shorter, and Peter Gabriel. After a slew of successful solo albums, her new band project is called Dept. of Good and Evil, a solid contemporary jazz outing featuring her stellar piano stylings amidst a full band setting. In the group with her are Maeve Royce on acoustic bass, Tony Levin on electric bass, Erik Naslund on trumpet, and Bobbie Rae on drums, percussion, and vocals. This twelve song CD features three original tunes, two standards and seven goth and pop rock covers, which are an interesting listen to say the least.

Rachel's piano melodies are simply gorgeous on songs like "Maps", "Soul Meets Body", and "Milky Way", where she soars like a young Chick Corea or Herbie Hancock. She adds her passionate and sultry vocals to the song "Moon and Sun", and the whole band really hits a nice vibe on the instrumental cover of The Police classic "King of Pain". Naslund adds a sort of understated Miles Davis feel to The Joy Divisions' "Love Will Keep Us Apart", as well as the Wayne Shorter classic "ESP", both great renditions that capture the spirit of early 60's jazz. The Bill Withers R&B/Soul classic "Ain't No Sunshine" is given royal treatment here, complete with lush piano, soul searching trumpet melodies, sinewy bass grooves, and nimble drum work, easily one of the highlights of this very enjoyable CD.

While it would have been very easy for Rachel Z and the Dept. of Good and Evil to release a commercial sounding lite jazz CD aimed at airplay and featuring a slew of cover songs, the fact that they didn't and instead delivered an old school, early 60's styled traditional jazz affair is highly commendable. Sure, two of the originals have a certain element of "cool jazz" radio potential, but overall there's an aura of risk taking and cutting edge sounds that is really convincing and impressive here. All you need to do is give a listen to the near 10-minute original piece "Saint of New Orleans" to know what this band is all about, which is creating and performing silky, pioneering modern jazz that is not afraid to take chances and delve off into traditional waters. This is well played, intense music, and kudos go out to this fine unit.

Track Listing
1 Soul Meets Body
2 Milky Way
3 King of Pain
4 Lakme
5 Inner Urge
6 Moon and Sun
7 Maps
8 Love Will Tear Us Apart
10 Walking on Water
11 Ain't No Sunshine
12 Saint of New Orleans

Added: March 7th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Rachel Z Website
Hits: 2052
Language: english

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