The alternatingly meditative and chaotic opener 'Luke' shows off Preminger's humorously sly, somewhat quirky compositional style - the melody and the rhythm stutter one over the other, finally resolving as Preminger launches into his first solo over near-rubato backing that slowly gels into something more uptempo. On the tenor, his is a sound allied more with Rollins / Warne Marsh / Joe Henderson / Joe Lovano than with Brecker or Trane. Preminger has a broad, burnished, almost phlegmy tone and develops his solos thoughtfully while still emphasizing spontaneity. The palindromically titled 'Was It A Rat I Saw' is similar, its lengthy theme - sounding a bit like a musical palindrome - followed by darkly ironic interplay between Kimbrough, Preminger, and Monder (here using a juicily distorted tone) over broken shards of rhythm. The band really cuts loose on 'Today is Okay', a brief wisp of a tune over churning Blackwell & Haden style rhythm. I was totally taken aback by Preminger's fearless, assured, and cliché-free soloing here and on the rest of the CD, as well.
The CD's two ballads - both Preminger originals - are quite different from one another. 'A Dream' is a brief, abstract piece that flits by all too quickly. 'Where Seagulls Fly' is pure old school jazz balladry - all red roses and candlelight. Ted Poor's brushes provide perfectly nuanced support to the leader's tenor and Frank Kimbrough's rippling piano. Preminger makes some intelligent choices for cover tunes,as well. John Hebert's bass solo opens Dave Douglas' 'Blues for Steve Lacy' on an appropriately somber note, but the tune itself is just plain beautiful - it seems to change from stormy to sunny and back again over the space of a few bars. Lee Konitz' 'Sax of A Kind' sounds positively Ornette-ish, and showcases Ted Poor's agile, wonderfully articulated drumming. The CD closes with an original tune that quickly became my personal favorite - 'Rhythm for Robert' starts as a ballad, mutates into a joyous 6/8 romp capped by Russ Johnson's amazing trumpet solo, and then makes a hairpin turn into M-BASE inspired minor key funk for Ben Monder's hair-on-fire guitar solo.
This CD was an utterly pleasant surprise, and is much more than a showcase for Noah Preminger's mad tenor sax skills. The compositions are fresh, the band provides totally committed, no-holds-barred backing and truly inspired solos, and I really enjoyed it from beginning to end. On the basis of repeated listens to 'Dry Bridge Road', I can safely conclude that Noah Preminger is definitely for real.