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It is quite rare to confront such a mature and convincing statement by a 22-year-old musician, but the debut release of Boston-based graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger is such a rare gem. Preminger's musical vision encompasses impressions of left-of-center cerebral sax heroes such as Steve Lacy and Warne Marsh, well-articulated and sophisticated original compositions and a confident command. He also managed to cast excellent and experienced players for his groupRuss Johnson on trumpet, Ben Monder on guitar, Frank Kimbrough on piano, John Herbert on bass and Ted Poor on drums.
Preminger's choice of compositions features him as a resourceful and inventive player and improviser. His assured and nuanced playing is evident on the opening original "Luke," where he patiently develops a full-toned solo amid beautiful solos by Kimbrough and Monder. "A Dream" is a musing and subtle tone poem with Monder that is close in its spirit to the guitarist's duets with vocalist Theo Bleckmann. The post-bop "Today is Okay," named after an album by Icelandic rock band Mum, stresses collective improvisations and the tight interplay within the sextet. Dave Douglas' touching "Blues for Steve Lacy" is introduced with Herbert's contemplative bass solo and slowly opens into a lyrical suite that features Preminger and Johnson intertwining dark and nuanced solos and beautiful interplay between Monder, Herbert and Poor.
On Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh's "Sax of a Kind" Preminger pays his dues to Marsh's and Ornette Colman's improvising styles. Preminger's original ballad "Where Seagulls Fly" features him on a slow searching solo that develops organically through the engaging harmonic accompaniment of Kimbrough and spare drumming by Poor. "Was It A Rat I Saw?" shifts comfortably between linear and fractured meters without losing its flux, and features Preminger's soaring sax solo on top of Monder's distorted guitar atmospherics. "Real Nice," by Preminger collaborator, pianist Eric Lane, alternates between free improvising and more straight-forward dynamics by all band members, while Poor's energetic playing anchors all into a clear framework. The last original, "Rhythm for Robert," dedicated to Preminger's father, is a Latin rock-tinged rhythmic vehicle for a passionate and well-crafted solo by Preminger, a blazing one by Monder and a propulsive answer by Poor.
A promising and beautiful release.
Track Listing: Luke; A Dream; Today is Okay; Blues for Steve Lacy; Sax of a Kind; Where Seagulls Fly; Was It A Rat I Saw; Real Nice; Rhythm for Robert.
Personnel: Noah Preminger: tenor saxophone; Russ Johnson: trumpet; Ben Monder: guitar; Frank Kimbrough: piano; John Hebert: bass; Ted Poor: drums.