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April 2003

Rachel Z
Moon at the Window
Tone Center

Rachel Z is known as a fusion keyboardist through associations with Al Di Meola, Wayne Shorter and Larry Coryell. Yet for Moon at the Window, which features renditions of Joni Mitchell folk-pop classics, she's chosen to work in an acoustic-trio setting. Mitchell's songs, spanning love's tribulations to social protest, were what Z cut her teeth on when rebelling from classical training and playing with a rock band at 15.

Fast-forward to present, with her jazz chops firmly in place, and Z, along with bassist Patricia Des Lauriers and drummer Bobbie Rae, does justice to Mitchell's tricky compositions. The musicians' performances soar, and the CD is far from being a mellow affair. "Big Yellow Taxi" encompasses dramatic flair and immediately gets your attention, while "Free Man in Paris" and "Help Me" are fun jams with Z and Rae cutting loose. Spirituality is also essential to Mitchell's music, and it's adeptly conveyed through Des Lauriers' lush playing on "Lakota."

Overall, Z and crew can unequivocally claim they've seen Mitchell's music from both sides now.

Originally published in April 2003
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