By Josef Woodard
Updated August 18, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Retreating from the calculated vapidity of her ”smooth jazz” work, keyboardist Rachel Z shows her formidable stuff in the real-jazz mode of On the Milky Way Express, on music by her former employer, the great Wayne Shorter. In an acoustic trio format, Z and her female cohorts pay due — if sometimes tentative — respect to Shorter’s compositional genius, in all its angular beauty and assuring urbanity. He is the implied hero here. B