How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
This is Noah Preminger's recording debut and it's an impressive one for the 22-year-old tenor saxophonist, who carries recommendations from players as forceful as Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone and Dave Liebman. It's not just technique that distinguishes Preminger; it's the quality of his musical thought, the depth of his interaction and his sense of a broader tradition.
There are no standards here, but Preminger covers two tunes that suggest key associations: Dave Douglas' "Blues for Steve Lacy" and the Lee Konitz/Warne Marsh tune "Sax of a Kind." So Preminger is thoughtful enough to invoke some of the more cerebral saxophone masters and the influence shows in his playing, taking a decidedly oblique, Marsh-like slant at times. Preminger's sound is a warm, precise vehicle for probing lines that usually seek the road less traveled, further tribute to that Marsh consciousness through the harmonic wanderings of "Real Nice" that stretch toward Pharoah Sanders. The ballads "A Dream" and "Where Seagulls Fly" show his mellow side, though the latter maintains an exploratory bent.
As to the band, it would be hard to ask for more. Preminger has placed himself in stellar company, with trumpeter Russ Johnson, guitarist Ben Monder, pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist John Hebert and drummer Ted Poor. While some younger musicians pad their debuts by engaging high-powered sidemen, Preminger holds his own and at times seems to be prodding his cohorts, developing intense group dialogues in the free jazz zone on "Today Is Okay" and "Was It a Rat I Saw?." Johnson and Monder are particularly adventurous in this terrain, but there are substantial contributions in solo or support from everyone involved. Preminger arrives with an exceptional mix of talent and skill; he also has identity and a sense of adventure.
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.