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Noah Preminger

Before the Rain

(Palmetto; US: 18 Jan 2011; UK: 14 Feb 2011)

Mostly ballads

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to be named Noah and call your record Before the Rain, but maybe this tenor saxophonist/composer doesn’t believe a flood is coming. Maybe it was just some sort of cosmic coincidence. The important thing is that the eight and a half minute title composition is a lovely, gentle jazz exploration that softly suggests a cloudy day where nothing seems to be happening—except, perhaps, that there’s some kind of breeze. Preminger tenderly plays. He does not engage in long, windy solos. The backing trio, pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist John Hebert, and drummer Matt Wilson, keeps the tempo bright without ever getting too lively. The effect stimulates reflection. This is true of the other eight tracks as well. About half of the cuts are self-penned ballads, two more are compositions written by the pianist, and there’s a bouncy Ornette Coleman song, “Toy Dance”, and two items from the great American songbook: Rodgers and Hart’s “Where or When” and Sammy Cahn and company’s “Until the Real Thing Comes Along”. The instrumentalists always maintain control, even when playing loose. Preminger may be prophesying that there’s a storm coming, but he and his combo suggest we all remain calm.

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Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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