Noah Preminger

Dry Bridge Road

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Noah Preminger is a young jazz saxophonist from the Boston area whose sound parallels peer Donny McCaslin, sans experience. But Preminger is as smart as any within the contemporary neo-bop realm, using some of McCaslin's bandmates including pianist Frank Kimbrough, electric guitarist Ben Monder, bassist John Hebert, and drummer Ted Poor -- all extraordinary improvisers and intelligent modern musicians. The leader is also a composer of wit, substance, and intrigue whose music requires close listening to reveal all the intricacies therein. Six of the charts are of Preminger's doing, and not lacking any of the drama of his non-related namesake, Otto. "Luke" accurately reflects McCaslin's quirky and busy neo-bop stance, but the band chills during the floating shortie "A Dream." "Today Is Okay" has Preminger and trumpeter Russ Johnson ingeniously sighing and gently weeping over a bopping beat from Poor, then chattering. Restrained to the nth degree, the ballad "Where Seagulls Fly" showcases a supremely heartfelt sax and piano, especially well rendered by the extraordinary Kimbrough. "Was It A Rat I Saw?" has to be idiosyncratic, even obtuse as the title suggests, but it smolders like near burnt out embers. Kimbrough also simplifies things on the childlike "Real Nice," and the band is reclined and relaxed to start "Rhythm for Robert," but Poor rocks it out in a 6/8 paced tug-of war. Preminger's influences also are pronounced, as Hebert's probing, Charlie Haden-like intro goes deep into a four-note motif with soulful horns during the Dave Douglas composition "Blues for Steve Lacy," and the intriguing choice of the unmitigated Lee Konitz/Warne Marsh hard bop obscurity "Sax of a Kind" is fast, elevated, unafraid, complex, and a challenge for the performers and their listeners. Dry Bridge Road is recommended to all who appreciate new music being made within conventional frames iridescently painted over and ornately decorated.

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