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Noah Preminger: Taking It Outlaw

Saxophonist Noah Preminger and the art of originality

Noah Preminger

“I met Greg Osby,” recounts Noah Preminger, “and he told me, ‘I can’t figure out who you sound like.’ That’s maybe the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.” The anecdote is telling. Osby witnessed firsthand the Young Lion era-that ’80s moment when so many high-profile young players mined jazz history to the point of mimicry. Tenor saxophonist Preminger is clearly focused on being himself.

The 24-year-old’s pedigree is similar to that of many notable jazz musicians his age. He attended a big-time jazz college, New England Conservatory, and before that, a big-time jazz high school. Given such a background, and the reputation jazz schools have-deserved or not-for turning out technically proficient automatons, it might seem remarkable that Preminger has developed such an individual conception. But then you meet him, and hear him talk about his passion for boxing-he recently took up the sport-or his tongue-in-cheek fantasy about being a sniper-assassin for the CIA. Asked what he might’ve been had he not become a jazz musician, he says, “A ski bum, maybe,” which isn’t hard to imagine, given his casual good looks and confident, friendly manner. Preminger is clearly disinclined to do what’s expected of him. When he says, “I’m not a school person,” it seems totally in character.

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