Thursday, September 21, 2017

Omri Ziegele Where's Africa - Going South (Intakt Records, 2017)

This is an interesting band led by Omri Ziegele on alto saxophone, Uzbek flute and vocals, accompanied by Yves Theiler on keyboards, reed organ, melodica and vocals and Dario Sisera on drums and percussion. The songs on this album flow freely, playing with time and space to good effect. "Afreaka" opens the album with some funky keyboards and bright saxophone over a nimble rhythm. Ziegele stretches out with a strong saxophone solo, which gets more intense as it develops, powering through the music and pushed on by thrashing drums and overdriven keyboards. They space out to nearly complete silence before returning to the theme and concluding. This is followed by "Make Me Mad" which builds a choppy melody with rippling saxophone that develops a happy and upbeat feeling. There is a brightly colored saxophone feature over taut rhythm, with Ziegele getting more strident in tone but never changing the upbeat mood of piece. "Laughing Your Tears Away" is buoyed by thick and full electric keyboards with light and mobile saxophone and drums. The saxophonist solos against the light backdrop in a straight up modern jazz fashion, playing in a fleet and confident manner. Ziegele moves to flute for "Will You Marry Me After So Many Years" and it is a nice change of pace with gentle percussion and keyboards setting a spiritual vibe. Shimmering cymbals and brushes frame the scene and set up a quiet improvisation for the trio. After a couple of tracks that feature vocals and spoken word, "The Milkman Always Paid My Rent" has a gentle opening for mid-tempo saxophone, accompanied by the rhythm section. The improvisation bobs and weaves, leading to some intensifying saxophone that gets stronger, offering swells of sound, making it the most memorable solo on the album. "Ithi Gqi" concludes the album in fine fashion with soft pastel tones of electric piano, and a bubbling rhythmic foundation, creating a very interesting township/calypso feeling. There is a lengthy section for keyboards and percussion, before Ziegele reenters to take the tune out. This was a very enjoyable album, the music had a light and funky feeling to it, tinged with hints of African music that was well suited to the songs presented here. Going South -

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