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Noah Preminger: Preminger Plays Preminger (Newvelle)

A review of the saxophonist's album paying homage to Otto Preminger's films

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Preminger Plays Preminger
Cover of Preminger Plays Preminger

Prolific tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger is also a film buff-cum-history-twisting trickster. Turning his keen lens on the work of director and namesake Otto Preminger, Noah generally de-arranges the scores to some of Otto’s greatest films. Accompanied by Jason Moran on piano, Kim Cass on bass, and Marcus Gilmore on drums, Preminger works his chosen material like a master conjurer.

In its original film form, “Advise and Consent” is a sweet-toothed Mancini-esque ditty. Preminger instead goes melancholic, scoring a single scene from the 1962 film in the sad-eyed rumination, “For Advise and Consent.” Gilmore paces behind and Moran spreads a cloud of chords—it’s gorgeous languor that eventually morphs into a riotous swing dance. “Johnny Comes Marching Home” was heard over the title sequence of 1953’s Stalag 17, but Preminger’s “For Stalag” is an incandescent beauty as haunting as a dawn halo. Marilyn Monroe famously sang the theme to River of No Return—Preminger roots out its lyrical soul, putting forth sweet tenor tones and curious questions. “For Laura” is Preminger’s take on one scene from the film, sidestepping David Raskin’s stunning theme in a decentralized melody that holds similar weight. Other highlights of Preminger’s successful experiment include Duke Ellington’s “Way Early Subtone” (Anatomy of a Murder) and “Bunny Lake Is Missing.”

In today’s action/thriller-packed movie universe, the songs of Otto Preminger’s films sound overwhelmingly sentimental. Noah Preminger doesn’t remove their lush emotionalism, but rather builds on it. Preminger Plays Preminger adds to the tenor player’s epic catalog of soul-satisfying musical brilliance.

Originally Published