The Atomic Truth Grenade
Noah Preminger, Before the Rain, Palmetto Records
Noah Preminger's second release, his first for Palmetto Records, shows off this young tenor sax player's abilities as a mature soloist and composer. The quartet displays a depth of composition and playing that compels the listener to experience these tracks multiple times, each time delving deeper into the melodies and improvisations, and each time appreciating what these artists are saying with their instruments.
The album begins with a gorgeous rendering of the Rogers and Hart standard Where or When. While only slightly over two minutes in length, Noah's concise statement coaxes a full, breathy tone that brings a warm human element not usually heard by players of today's generation.
The next track, Quickening, a Frank Kimbrough composition, immediately brought to mind memories of the early Keith Jarrett Quartet (Jarrett, D. Redman, Haden, Motion). That influence permeates much of the albums compositions and playing by this quartet, and it is a joy to hear again. Ornette Coleman's influence is also heard on the cover of Coleman's Toy Dance.
This quartet consists of Noah's frequent collaborators, Frank Kimbrough on piano, John Hebert on bass and recent addition Matt Wilson on drums. Kimbrough contributes a couple of his compositions and a depth of experience that is evident in his playing throughout the album. John Herbert's rich bass sound provides a solid foundation that grounds these tunes. Matt Wilson's exploring drumming brings color and texture and he can turn on the swing when the quartet decides to move in that direction. Noah is on top of all of this with his warm tenor that can reach you at the core of your soul and then soar with intensity to outer space. His unique phrasing and melodic statements seem to always go where you least expect it, a sign of a true creative artist.
While Before the Rain is billed in the press release as an album of ballads, with the exception of two covers, I wouldn't consider these tracks ballads in the traditional sense. Ballads are primarily memorable melodies and romantic lyrical devices. These tunes, though mostly slow tempo, take time to develop their melodic sense. The quartet takes these fragile melodies in many exploratory directions that demand the listener understand where these compositions are going. It is this challenge that makes the album one that I highly recommend, and one that will give you repeated listening pleasure. I wish the CD contained some more of the fiery intense freeform playing that I have seen in Noah Preminger's performances. For that you will have to see him live. You would be well advised to do so.