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Irene Schweizer and Omri Ziegele: Where's Africa

Dan McClenaghan By

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This duo outing, featuring saxophonist Omri Ziegele and Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer, thrives on the contrasts of the two artists' styles. Schweizer's approach is joyous and ribald, a loose and free-flowing love affair with her instrument. Alto saxophonist Ziegele has a robust tone, a bit raw-edged, intense and imaginative. On Where's Africa the duo dives into five tunes by Don Cherry, three Monk compositions, Duke Ellington, Kurt Weill, and Johnny Mandel's "Suicide Is Painless" (the "Mash" theme song), and Rodgers and Hart's "Isn't It Romantic."

The set has a relaxed feeling to it, exploratory, like a kicked-back after hours session played for the pure joy of making music. Schweizer's solo on "Isn't It Romantic" rollicks and rolls, with Ziegele's horn searing anguished notes into the pianist's free-flowing ideas.

The Monk tunes—"Monk's Mood," "Jackying," and "Ask Me Now"—are especially interesting, with Ziegele soaring on "Ask Me Now," as Schjweizer embellishes and plays with Monk's ideas, wrapping them in ebullient notes.

Ziegele sings on Rodgers and Hart's "Isn't It Romantic" and the closer, "Ntyilo, Ntyilo," and he's not Tony Bennett, and doesn't pretend to be; it's a singing in the shower mode: spirited and unself-concious, untrained, and a nice counterpoint to his sax style.

An unpretentious, upbeat set of jazz sounds.

Track Listing: Golden Heart; Togetherness One/Part I; I'm Goin' Fishin'; Monk's Mood; Suicide Is Painless; Speak Low; Isn't It Romantic; Terrestial Beings; Art Deco; Togetherness One/Part II; Bleu Fonce; Jackying; Ask Me Now; The Bride; Ntyilo; Ntyilo.

Personnel: Irene Schweizer: piano; Omri Ziegele: alto saxophone; vocals.

Title: Where's Africa | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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