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September 10, 2008

Z is only the beginning

Pianist Rachel Z’s work transcends. She’s shown up on recordings and tours with Peter Gabriel and the legendary jazz creations of Wayne Shorter, and she’s still mixing it up. During her last trip here in March 2007, the setlist included originals, jazz compositions by Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock, and interpretations of Neil Young and Death Cab for Cutie.

Monday, she’s bringing her full backing band: bassist Maeve Royce and drummer Bobby Rae.

“I feel grateful to have this as a band,” Z says. “Bobby arranges stuff specifically for us; I can work out the harmonies with him, and we just really work as a team. It’s like the best band ever because of that. We keep growing, and it’s a great opportunity for growth.”

Over my dead piano: Rachel Z
Over my dead piano: Rachel Z

The Department of Good & Evil is based in New York, where they are making their first, fan-funded album. Z is affiliated with ArtistShare (www.artistshare.com), which helps artists find funding for projects and, as she’s quick to point out, embraces digital technology: “We’ll record a gig and upload it the same night.”

This provides wider access to the music than would be available through standard record companies, while allowing for greater artist control as to what is made available through commercial channels rather than downloaders. Z’s versions of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and Young’s “Heart of Gold” are now up on that site.

The new album “will be the first fan-funded one,” Z says. “We want a bigger project with strings and wind instruments, four tracks with orchestration.” 

Crossover appeal is a trait to which Z is attuned.

For pop music heads, “We would open their creativity a little bit. The band has an exciting edge. We are always looking for new artists to cover.” Same goes for jazz devotees. “We do gigs in California, and we share sets and play with Charlie Shoemake, who played vibes for about 20 years with George Shearing, and I would say George Shearing is one of the most conservative jazz acts you could find.” 



Rachel Z & The Department

of Good and Evil

Jazz Factory Orphans’ Series

Monday, Sept. 15

Comedy Caravan

1250 Bardstown Road

459-0022

$10+; 7:30 p.m.