On one hand you’ve got the free/out-jazz posse that looks upon anything "accessible" (that is, accessible to others besides themselves and their friends and adherents) as sell-out, and then on the other you’ve got "professionals" that look and sound find but in essence aren’t doing anything that Miles, Freddie, Sonny, and Herbie haven’t done before (and better). Fortunately, the Big We has got this young Noah Preminger fellow, a lad that knows "the Tradition" includes risk, wild inspiration, and pushing boundaries. Dry Bridge Road is a sextet session that’s hard to put an easy handle on, and that’s good.
It has the feel of some classic Blue Note sessions, but it’s the edgier BN’s evoked, the discs by Sam Rivers and Andrew Hill. I think it’s a telling point that one of the few non-originals on this disc, "Blues For Steve Lacy," is written by Dave Douglas, a trumpeter and composer that’s both eclectic and focused, who draws from many traditions both within and beyond jazz. This set swings, to be sure, but it’s rarely predictable there are free passages, there’s purpose and unity. At times it’s fractured freebop a la Douglas, Don Cherry, and (Eric) Dolphy ("Was It A Rat I Saw"), other times it’s unsentimental but poignant balladry (the Lee-Konitz-ian "Where Seaguls Fly"). The elegiac semi-dirge "Real Nice" recalls Ornette Coleman’s mellow side without ever "sounding like" Coleman Frank Kimbrough (remember that name!) plays especially poetically spare piano here while Ted Poor’s drums rumble like thunder in the distance. Throughout, Preminger plays with what can only be called quiet fire, slightly parched (a Konitz influence, maybe?), carefully reflective without being stodgy. Everyone here plays with economy and zest. All in all, Road is a dandy debut disc!.