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Album Review

Omar Hakim / Rachel Z, 'The Trio of Oz'

October 18, 2010

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It is no longer shocking when a jazz piano trio covers rock songs. The Bad Plus has been doing that for a decade, and many have followed. Still, it’s not the norm, and when a trio does it with as much gusto as this one, it qualifies as an event. Omar Hakim — who has drummed with Miles Davis, Sting, and Weather Report — has paired up with modern-minded pianist Rachel Nicolazzo (Rachel Z) for the cheekily titled “The Trio of OZ.’’ With the help of bassist Maeve Royce, they put their own stamp on songs by the likes of Stone Temple Pilots, Coldplay, and the Killers. Hakim’s sticks skitter across the skins on Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart’’ while Nicolazzo states the plaintive melody and then improvises off the chord changes. New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle’’ becomes a languid ballad in these six hands, with Royce bowing the melody. The trio uses the Smiths’ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’’ as a vehicle for speedy post-bop and Depeche Mode’s “In Your Room’’ — a dark electronic number — as a framework for brainy ruminations. Familiar songs heard in fascinating new contexts — that’s what jazz does best. (Out now)

STEVE GREENLEE

ESSENTIAL “In Your Room’’