Although saxophonist Noah Preminger titled his disc Haymaker, a term denoting a wildly unorthodox punch thrown by a boxer, his third release as a leader (second for Palmetto) is anything but undisciplined. Following Before The Rain (Palmetto, 2011), he reorganizes his quartet and reunites with guitarist Ben Monder from debut sextet session Dry Bridge Road (Nowt Records, 2008). The pair share an affinity for disciplined music making and the gifts of musical sprezzatura and a pure tone.
Their music fits hand-in-glove throughout. The composition "Rhonda's Suite" could be mistaken for another saxophone/guitar pairing, that of Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell in Paul Motian's bands. Even drummer Colin Stranahan adopts the Motian role, painting with cymbals and quiet toms. Preminger molds the ten tracks (seven originals) to showcase not only his sound, but that of an ensemble. Versatile bassist Matt Pavolka anchors things throughout. His pulse ignites the quartet's cover of alt-rocker Dave Matthews' "Don't Drink The Water," which halfway through, is given over to a brief noble stretch of jazz improvisation. The track certainly begs for a live performance.
The title track and Monder's "Animal Planet" provide intricate passages and complex atmospherics that could lose the melodies if not for the quality of the players. Preminger has a knack for making the knotty quite smooth. His sound recalls Lovano, Mark Turner and Chris Potter. Like Sonny Rollins he can make even the schmaltzy sound beautiful. His version of "Tomorrow" from Annie, played in a breathy, after-hours style, eschews sappy for tender and reestablishes the tune. Likewise, his gentle and majestic "My Blues For You" is given to a refined sense of balance. Preminger throws no wild punches here, all are well timed and hit quite hard.
Track Listing: Morgantown; My Blues For You; Haymaker; Animal Planet; Tomorrow; 15,000; Stir My Soul; Rhonda’s Suite; Don’t Drink The Water; Motif Attractif.
Personnel: Noah Preminger: tenor saxophone; Ben Monder: guitar; Matt Pavolka: bass; Colin Stranahan: drums.
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