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|Birth name||Rachel Carmel Nicolazzo|
|Born||New York City|
|Genres||Jazz, jazz fusion, alternative rock, rock|
|Labels||Columbia, GRP, NYC, Savoy, Tone Center, Chesky|
|Associated acts||Peter Gabriel, Wayne Shorter, Steps Ahead, Vertú, OZMoSYS, The OZexperience, The Trio of OZ, Wayne Escofferey, Terri Lyne Carrington, Al di Meola|
Rachel Carmel Nicolazzo, better known as Rachel Z, and now Rachel Z Hakim, is a jazz and rock pianist and keyboardist and is considered one of the most influential and versatile musical forces of her generation.
She recorded 10 solo albums as a jazz musician. "Rachel Z is an improviser whose spontaneous playing is by no means eclipsed by the work of presiding geniuses such as Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner", opined John Fordham in The Guardian (4 August 2005.)
In 1988, she co-wrote the Grammy Award-winning and certified Gold Record "Tokyo Blue" saxophonist Najee. From 1988 t0 1996 she played keyboards and piano with fusion band Steps Ahead with vibes player Mike Mainieri. In 1995 she worked with Wayne Shorter, on his album High Life, which won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. She was responsible for the CD's 40 tracks of synthesized orchestral sounds, acoustic piano solos and several concurrent world tours.
She worked closely on preproduction with Marcus Miller in the studio to mesh the synth orchestra with the live ensemble to create the unique and innovative soundscape. While signed to Columbia by Dr George Butler, she released an influential CD, Trust the Universe, which was unique in featuring a jazz A side with Charnette Moffett and Al Foster and an electric jazz B side with Lenny White and Victor Bailey.
In 1997 she recorded her next solo CD, "Room of One's Own – A Tribute to Women Artists"; it won 4 stars in Down Beat and extensive critical acclaim for the original compositions and wind ensemble arrangements.
In 1999, Rachel Z was a part of a jazz fusion project by Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. The effort, called "Vertú", featured such artists as Karen Briggs on violin and Richie Kotzen on guitar. She experimented with her own rock group Peacebox as a vocalist. During this time she was also working with the Neapolitan Italian pop legend Pino Daniele, with whom she first began working in 1996 and toured with until his death in 2015. She toured with Peter Gabriel during his Growing Up tours from 2002 to 2006, which gave Rachel the opportunity to widen her fan base and work with bassist Tony Levin. Her project, entitled "Dept. of Good and Evil", on Savoy received a very successful reception.
In 2010, she formed a new band with husband Omar Hakim, called "The Trio Of OZ" which released its first CD and began touring; Z and Hakim also launched OZmosis Records in 2010. This group performed internationally adding Solomon Dorsey on bass and joined Pino Daniele for La Grande Madre Tour in 2012 while also performing OZ tour dates. In 2013–14, Rachel Z recorded and toured as additional synth for The Omar Hakim Experience. She played synth with Wayne Escofferey for his US and Euro tour of 2014 release of Live at Firehouse 12. She toured with Terri Lyne Carrington in 2014 for the Mosaictour and recorded on the 2015 release of Mosaic 2 "Love and Soul" on Concords Records. In 2015, she joined Neal Schon Vortex to open for the rock band Journey for 17 gigs in Canada.
The OZExperience, now "Ozmosys" (Omar and Rachel Z), are currently working on their second release in their studio and plan to release the project in 2019. The band performs improvised EDM, electronica, jazz, funk, and rock. The new group recently recorded an EP at Power Station for release in Spring 2019 with Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar and Linley Marithe on bass and also J. C. Maillard on guitar on tour.
Rachel Z, a graduate of New England Conservatory of Music, is a professor at the College for the Performing Arts New School University (jazz and contemporary music studies) since 2000. She is a visiting artist at Berklee EPD Dept since 2018 intermittently. She will be attending SUNY Purchase in 2019–2021 to earn a master's degree in studio composition.
- Trust the Universe (Columbia, 1992)
- A Room of One's Own (NYC, 1996)
- Love Is the Power (GRP, 1998)
- On the Milkyway Express (Tone Center, 2000)
- Moon at the Window (Tone Center, 2002)
- First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Tokuma, 2003)
- Everlasting (Tone Center, 2004)
- Grace (Chesky, 2005)
- Dept of Good and Evil (Savoy/WEA, 2007)
- Yin Yang (Steps Ahead) (NYC, 1990)
- Vertu (Sony, 1999)
- The Trio of OZ (OZmosis, 2010)
- We are One (OZmosis, 2013)
- Kiss My Axe, Al Di Meola (Tomato, 1991)
- Urban Renewal, Bobby Watson (Kokopelli, 1995)
- Regina Carter, Regina Carter (Atlantic, 1995)
- Highlife, Wayne Shorter (Verve, 1996)
- The Infinite Desire, Al Di Meola (Universal, 1998)
- Hit, Peter Gabriel (Real World, 2003)
- Still Growing Up Live & Unwrapped, Peter Gabriel (Real World, 2005)
- Mortal (ArtistShare, 2006)
- I Will Possess Your Heart (Pony Canyon, 2009)
- Firehouse 12, Wayne Escofferey (Sunnyside, 2013)
- Mosaic 2, Terri Lyne Carrington (Concord, 2015)
With Pino Daniele
- Medina (Sony, 2001)
- Pino Daniele, Francesco De Gregori, Fiorella Mannoia, Ron - In Tour (Sony, 2002)
- Concerto: Medina Live (Sony, 2002)
- Electric Jam (Sony, 2009)
- Boogie Boogie Man (Sony, 2010)
- La Grande Madre (Blue Drag/Sony, 2012)
With Peter Gabriel
- Growing Up Live (Real World, 2004)
- Still Growing Up Live (Real World, 2005)
- “Al DiMeola Live at the Palladium”
(tomato Records, 1996)