Monday, February 20, 2017

Noah Preminger, Meditations on Freedom

Noah Preminger and his excellent quartet follow in the footsteps of some of jazz's most luminary masters and their fearless endeavors to express in music the social protests they felt deeply in the troubled times they dwelt within. Nowadays the trouble has not only returned but for those that look carefully at recent trends threatened en masse our very freedoms and put our democratic institutions at great risk. We heard, those who were following jazz decades ago, beautifully expressed protest jazz from Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane.

Now of all times we need this again. The advent of new levels of racism,  populist demagoguery, a disregard for facts and jeopardization of free speech and basic human rights, not to mention the constitution itself, all have been seriously brought or bought off. An unprecedented sense of danger permeates our world thanks to the rise and elective victories of the far right, expressed in shocking speech and policy making, and sometimes disguised as its opposite.  Perhaps never has our country faced a greater threat to its existence.

So enter Noah Preminger and his heartfelt cry of dissent, Meditations on Freedom (Dry Bridge Records 005). He is a tenor sax jazzman who has truly come into his own in recent times, and a bandleader with the current quartet having at us nicely with a third album after two excellent ones (type his name in index box above for recent reviews). This is a quartet with lots of fire and finesse, Noah leading it with a respect for the history of the music from the blues through Ornette and beyond, featuring the excellent trumpet acrobatics of Jason Palmer, along with a terrific rhythm section in the presence of bassist Kim Cass and drummer Ian Froman.

Five Preminger originals alternately reflect upon and cry out against our presnt condition. Some classic protest songs adorn the program--from Dylan's "Only A Pawn in Their Game," Sam Cook's iconic "A Change is Gonna Come," Harrison's "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)," etc.

The pianoless instrumentation and the approach owes something to the classic Ornette Coleman Quartet, and that foundation serves to give the quartet a springboard to their own original take on the ultramodern free-directed jazz of today. Everyone comes across superbly as individuals and as a collective.

This is heartening, bracing jazz, another wonderful set from this extraordinarily important foursome.

You should not miss it!

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