Friday, May 03, 2013

Noah Preminger - Haymaker

Noah Preminger - Haymaker

Noah Preminger’s official biography is probably the
only one to express a desire to “not get hit in the face”
and mean it literally. His fascination with the pugilist
lifestyle and other physically demanding pursuits
seem to be a large part of his mythology. Thus naming
his most recent album after an all-or-nothing swing of
the fist seems appropriate. The 20-something tenor
saxophonist may not have written any anthems to
replace LL Cool J’s monopoly over heroic ring entrances
and not every tune here renders the listener unconscious
but that’s a good thing.

Preminger’s last album had him in the presence of
a straight-ahead piano/bass/drums trio, which helped
place his classic tone in a classic setting. Here he is
joined by bassist Matt Pavolka, drummer Colin
Stranahan and guitarist Ben Monder, the latter’s
reverb creating a modern surface, opening things
up harmonically for the two lead instruments.

The title track, one of seven Preminger
compositions on the album, is a curious juxtaposition
of ground-level intensity from Stranahan and a subtler
melody from Preminger. His horn is patient and
deliberate over the percussive hurricane, gradually
stretching out. Although the album is largely selfpenned, the lone standard is an unexpected twist, with
Preminger taking the melody of a curly-haired orphan
for a meditative take on “Tomorrow”. It’s a short
performance dwelling entirely on the hopeful melody.
Preminger spends a minute alone, providing a breathy
exploration before the band gently joins him to recite
the popular tune. On “15,000”, Stranahan is a
wonderful bouncing presence with a litany of sounds
and feelings coming from his kit while “Stir My Soul”
gives Pavolka a little chance to stretch out over
Monder’s surf-inflected vibrations.

The resulting album is not nearly as physically
exhausting as one might expect given all the boxing
talk but it is a carefully controlled display of confidence,
allowing timing and patience to dictate when and
where the punches should land.

Noah Preminger @ NYC Jazz Record

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