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CD Review: Noah Preminger Group “Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert”

By Hrayr Attarian

Noah Preminger Group

Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert

Noah Preminger – Tenor saxophone

Jason Palmer – Trumpet

John O’Gallagher – Alto saxophone

Kris Davis – Piano

Rob Schwimmer – Haken Continuum, clavinet

Kim Cass – Bass

Rudy Royston – Drums

The stimulating Zigsaw is an intriguing, oneiric composition that trumpeter Steve Lampert wrote for his friend, saxophonist Noah Preminger. The latter, leading a septet of adventurous, like-minded musicians, recorded this captivating piece over two days in December of 2018 and has self-released it as a single forty-nine minute track that is a vibrant and poetic interpretation of Lampert’s distinctive creative vision.

Starting with sparse, chiming notes, the ensemble plays a series of energetic collective refrains that coalesce into the work’s main theme. Preminger takes center stage with a passionate and eloquent extemporization over angular, percolating rhythms. His agile lines reverberate within a darkly hued ambience.

Interspersed among similarly innovative individual expressions are recurring fragments of the original melody. Each is followed by an otherworldly electronic soundscape that keyboardist Rob Schwimmer coaxes out of his Haken Continuum and clavinet. Over Schwimmer’s cinematic and ethereal backdrop, pianist Kris Davis lets loose a haunting and surreal spontaneous tune.

Davis also contributes delightfully dissonant and elliptical chords that underscore trumpeter Jason Palmer’s intricate and absorbing improvisation. Palmer engages bassist Kim Cass in a contemplative and lyrical duet that mirrors Cass’ previous pensive and lithe soliloquy.

One of Lampert’s frequent collaborators, alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher, blows muscular, fiery phrases as he takes his turn in the spotlight. O’Gallagher’s intelligent and emotive performance simultaneously thrills and moves—appealing both at cerebral and visceral levels. The final solo belongs to drummer Rudy Royston. His complex and thunderous polyrhythms usher in the tense concluding head and its austere tolling tones.

Preminger’s engrossing retelling of Lampert’s provocative and dramatic Zigsaw is certainly challenging without being abstruse. It, therefore, makes for a rewarding listening experience. Preminger and his band members fuse their singular styles with Lampert’s own, equally unique, musical approach—making the album a true meeting of great minds.

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