Noah Preminger: saxophone; Jason Palmer: trumpet; Kim Cass: bass; Ian Froman: drums.
Meditations on Freedom is the suggestive title of the most recent album-length by the Brooklyn-based saxophonist Noah Preminger, who launches a musical protest against ominous political developments in America.
Throughout his still short but spellbinding career, Preminger has recorded/performed with a bunch of acclaimed artists, including guitarist Ben Monder, pianists Frank Kimbrough and Fred Hersch, horn players Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas, bassists Dave Holland and John Patittucci, and drummers Matt Wilson and Billy Hart.
In order to express his vision, Preminger reunites the same efficient quartet that has been backing him since 2015: trumpeter Jason Palmer, bassist Kim Cass, and drummer Ian Froman.
The quartet initiates with three covers in a row. Bob Dylan’s “Only a Pawn in Their Game” is filled with free-feeling melodic ornaments meticulously instilled to top layer the moderate bass-drums flow; the indelible riff of Bruce Hornsby's “The Way It Is” is immediately recognizable before a luxuriant improvisation is put out by Preminger, perfectly comfortable in exposing his adventurous personality with just drums under his feet; Sam Cooke’s 1964 African-American cry of hope “A Change is Gonna Come” acquires a ballad-like infatuation where the improvisers are encouraged to explore.
Preminger’s “I Have a Dream” and “Mother Earth” start with Cass’s invitational bass discourses and are given a 4/4 time signature. The former, dynamically charged by a swinging-yet-robust rhythm section, shows off the unforced fervor and crisp focus of the horn players; the latter, more restrained, compels Preminger and Palmer to fly fearlessly and then land in safety.
They blow the theme of “Women’s March” with pacific solicitude; however, the number gains an impetuous swinging pulse in sections reserved for personal creativity.
The honey-coated rendition of George Harrison’s folk-pop “Give Me Love” doesn’t let us hear the peace-appealing lyrics of the original but conveys all its emotion, whether emphasizing its beautiful melody, whether rejoicing through time-restricted volleys exchanged by Preminger and Carter.
Meditations on Freedom, bringing into mind the fruitful collaboration between Don Cherry and Gato Barbieri in the mid 60’s, is another impactful album from a gifted saxophonist who shares his perception of the world by allying strong message with an engaging musical setting.
02 – The Way It Is ► 04 – I Have a Dream ► 08 – Give Me Love