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Noah Preminger: Pivot: Live at the 55 Bar

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Noah Preminger is nothing if not bold. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the tenor saxophonist, who skydives and boxes for kicks, would follow the likes of Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins in taking a freewheeling pianoless (and guitarless) band through extended explorations.

Joining Preminger on the adventure, recorded live over three nights this past summer at New York’s intimate 55 Bar, were Jason Palmer on trumpet, Kim Cass on bass and Ian Froman on drums. “For one of the first times in my career,” Preminger writes in his album-jacket thank-yous, “I have a band that feels like a true ‘unit.'” Palmer, a leader in his own right whose wide-ranging sideman credits include work with Greg Osby, Grace Kelly and Matana Roberts, is a worthy frontline foil for Preminger, who outdoes his stellar work on his pair of previous albums. Preminger’s onetime New England Conservatory classmate Cass calls to mind the Charlie Haden role in Ornette’s great quartets, and Froman keeps everything surging with energetic invention.

The disc comprises two tracks of roughly 32 minutes apiece, the Bukka White classics “Fixin’ to Die Blues” and “Parchman Farm Blues.” Preminger notes in press material that he has listened to Delta blues almost exclusively in recent years. “I love all the honesty and emotion in the music, the soulfulness of the phrasing,” he explains. “Just the sound of Bukka White’s voice moves me. Those guys like him, they really meant what they were saying-and that is rare in this world.” Rare, too, is this caliber of Ornette-oriented playing being documented in small clubs. Pivot is proof that Preminger’s quartet gave 55 Bar patrons a lot of music for their $10 cover.

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