Acclaimed saxophonist and composer Noah Preminger has earned the #1 spot as “Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist” in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll. A group of 155 international critics from organizations including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, DownBeat, Jazziz, JazzTimes, NPR, Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Village Voice participated in this year’s poll.
Preminger won handily in his category. A feature article in the current edition of DownBeat cites his “distinctive character” and “huge tenor tone and muscular rhythms.” It calls Preminger’s 2017 Meditations on Freedom “an impassioned musical treatise.”
Meditations on Freedom was released on Inauguration Day (January 20, 2017), as a protest album. It features Preminger’s quartet with trumpeter Jason Palmer, bassist Kim Cass, and drummer Ian Froman. The album, recorded live on the studio floor with no edits by engineer Jimmy Katz, reimagines politically charged songs by Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby, Sam Cooke, and George Harrison, and features Preminger originals including “the 99 Percent,” “Women’s March,” “Mother Earth,” “Broken Treatis,” and “We Have a Dream.”
About his motivation to release Meditations, Preminger says, “I realize that the key thing I can hope to do with music – particularly instrumental jazz, with no words – is to heighten emotions. That said, some of the most beautiful, meaningful creations in the history of jazz have been poetic statements of protest, like John Coltrane’s ‘Alabama’ or Sonny Rollins’ ‘Freedom Suite’ and so many more great examples. I would never put myself in that category, but I’m not alone among jazz musicians today who wonder why it is that we do this. Ultimately it’s important to care about something larger than yourself and that’s what I am trying to convey with this music."
30-year-old Preminger has performed on stages from Boston and New York to Europe and Australia, playing with a wide range of jazz greats including Dave Liebman, Dave Holland, Fred Hersch, Dave Douglas, Victor Lewis, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Billy Drummond, George Cables, Roscoe Mitchell, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Cecil McBee, John McNeil and Frank Kimbrough. A native of Canton, Connecticut, Preminger has released eight critically acclaimed albums. His 2008 debut Dry Bridge Road was named Debut of the Year in the Village Voice Critics Poll, along with making Top 10 Albums of the Year lists in JazzTimes, Stereophile and The Nation. In 2011 Palmetto Records released Preminger’s next album Before the Rain, an essay in atmospheric romance that blends virtues both modern and old school. Reviewing that album, All About Jazz said: “Sensitivity and an ear for aural sophistication are the hallmarks of tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger.”
Preminger’s third album, Haymaker (Palmetto, 2013), features the saxophonist in mostly original material (plus a Dave Matthews cover and a tune from Annie for good measure). In The New York Times, Ben Ratliff said: “Mr. Preminger designs a different kind of sound for each note, an individual destiny and story,” while Nate Chinen chimed in, too, lauding his “darkly shaded… warmly expressive” tone and his “fluency, prudence and control.” The Boston Globe called Preminger’s music “impressive, challenging and beautiful.” In autumn 2016, Preminger followed his fiery, blues-fueled quartet discs Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground and Pivot: Live at the 55 Bar by showing his more intimate, romantic side again with a collection of ballads, Some Other Time, released exclusively as a vinyl LP by Newvelle Records. He recorded this with a dream band featuring Monder, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Billy Hart. All About Jazz, reviewing Some Other Time, said: “With this all-star band in tow, Preminger does what he does best: He tells a compelling story without frills – and he does it better than he has ever done before.”