Omri Ziegele Noisy Minority

Wrong is Right
Intakt Records 262

By Ken Waxman

Playing together in various combinations, alto saxophonist Omri Ziegele, electric bassist Jan Schlegel and drummer Dieter Ulrich rarely record as Noisy Minority, although the trio has been together since 1995. Confirming the sentiment of this CD’s title though, the Swiss-Israeli reedist and the Swiss rhythm team confound expectations on Wrong is Right by welcoming American trombonist Ray Anderson. Unlike the proverbial fifth wheel, the voluble brass player’s contributions are like adding a fourth wheel to a European mini car. Connected as if he was part of the chassis from the beginning, Anderson helps create a smooth ride without negating Noisy Minority’s past sports car-like freedom.

Case in point is “Tolck”, whose throbbing narrative boomerangs from an exploration of the trombone’s husky bottom timbres intercut with high-pitched mocking sax lines to a relaxed interface arbitrated by double bass sputters which snaps back into Energy Music-like cadences by the finale. Schlegel’s stinging bass parts are as solid as James Jamerson’s were for Motown, aptly demonstrated on the title tune. He’s able to rein in enough though so that Anderson can slip in clenched throat growls before the swinging line resumes. The ad-hoc quartet also handles a modified West Coast jazz-like march (“Finally Your Own Voice”) and a high-energy boppish refrain (“Late Cats’ Rushing Hour”) with the same dexterity, with each tune benefitting from Ulrich’s wriggling off center accents. Like a ‘50s beret-wearing hipster’s finger snaps, Anderson’s dyspeptic near-vocal intermezzos are perfect accompaniment to Ziegele pseudo-beatnik poetry reading on “Where I’m Going To”. Illuminatingly though, when Anderson’s buzzing plunger leaps coincide with the saxophonist’s sharp reed bites without words, the tune reaches a gutty climax, which is extended with a crying coda on the following track.

“Decimal System” is the most characteristic instance of the quartet’s concrete cooperation. A stop-time exposition where the musicians creep along like cape-wearing cartoon villains, the sonic journey is characterized by regular road-marker-like pops from Ulrich and sluicing flutter tones from both horns, with Anderson digging beneath the asphalt for subterranean timbres and Ziegele motoring along to maintain the groove. Neither too noisy or much of a minority where jazz is concerned, this quartet and CD actually have majority appeal.

Tracks: Late Cats’ Rushing Hour; Where I’m Going To; Faster than the Master; Finally Your Own Voice; Decimal System; Wrong Is Right; Tolck; In The Old Ways

Personnel: Ray Anderson (trombone); Omri Ziegele (alto saxophone and voice); Jan Schlegel (electric bass) and Dieter Ulrich (drums and bugle)

—For The New York City Jazz Record November 2016