Concert Review: Rachel Z Trio @ the Falcon 10/22/2023
Rachel Z, renowned for her skill on both electric and acoustic keyboards, opted to spotlight her piano work with her trio at the Falcon performance. This ensemble is gearing up for a tour across southern and eastern Europe, where they’ll be joined by a Norwegian saxophonist. Completing the trio are Jonathan Toscano on bass and Mino Cinelu on percussion, both of whom have previously collaborated with Rachel. Mino and Rachel share a history that spans 30 years. The focal point of this tour is the music of the late Wayne Shorter, who served as a significant collaborator and mentor to both Rachel and Mino.
The concert began with Rachel Z’s “Save My Soul,” a poignant plea for global peace.
This was succeeded by “ESP,” one of the many Wayne Shorter compositions performed. Its familiar, enigmatic musical phrases transformed into soaring notes.
Rachel’s piece “What I Fear” commenced as a solo piano expressing apprehension, then culminated with the full band resolving those fears.
Mino Cinelu stands out as one of the most innovative percussionists. With just a triangle, he communicates more than many drummers can with a full drum set. While his set predominantly features hand drums, he began a solo improvisation using jointed plastic piping, producing sounds reminiscent of a bass flute. He then seamlessly transitioned into a mesmerizing blend of polyrhythms that were both comprehensible and dance-worthy.
The performed “Bodhisattva” is not the whimsical Steely Dan number, but rather an homage to those who selflessly care for others, akin to a Buddhist saint.
“The Three Marias” captures Wayne Shorter’s melodic essence from his solo era in the 80s.
Adding a modern touch, the band covered the anthemic Foo Fighters track “These Days.”
This was contrasted by “Sensual,” a stately, slow-paced piece abundant with piano trills and chords.
“Milky Way Express” offers a serene voyage amidst the stars. This Wayne Shorter piece from the mid-90s encapsulates the late maestro’s fascination with astronomy and science fiction.
Wayne Shorter’s “Over ShadowHill Way” resonates in spirit with “Milky Way Express” but carries personal significance for Rachel, evoking memories of her rides along the California freeway in Wayne’s Mercedes.
The finale was not a Shorter composition but bears a tangential connection to him. Mino Cinelu’s “Confians,” featured on one of Weather Report’s last albums, “Sportin’ Life,” was the choice. Notably, it’s one of the rare Weather Report pieces with vocals. The rendition at the concert was sung in Creole, with Omar Hakim collaborating on percussion and vocals alongside Mino Cinelu and the rest of the band.
The fullness of the band’s sound left me pondering how they would sound when joined by the saxophonist during their European tour. A new album is slated for release in February. Meanwhile, many of these pieces are accessible on Rachel Z’s solo albums, as well as on Ozmosys and Trio of Oz releases across streaming platforms. Omar Hakim is scheduled to perform with his band, Sonic Boom Squad, at the Falcon on November 3. More details can be found on liveatthefalcon.com.
- Save My Soul
- ESP (Wayne Shorter)
- What I Fear
- Mino Cinelu percussion solo
- The Three Marias (Wayne Shorter)
- These Days (Foo Fighters)
- Milky Way Express (Wayne Shorter)
- Over ShadowHill Way (Wayne Shorter)
- Confians (Mino Cinelu- Weather Report)