Noah Preminger • Some Other Time

Newvelle Records NV003LP
180-gram LP
2016

Music

Sound

by Guy Lemcoe | September 30, 2016

his is the third release from Newvelle Records, the LP subscription service that's setting new standards for limited-edition records. Some Other Time features the tenor sax of New York-based Noah Preminger supported by fellow New Yorkers Ben Monder on guitar, John Patitucci on bass and New Jersey native Billy Hart on drums. The tempos are scaled back and the tunes, mostly ballads, are kept under six minutes in length.

Opening side one is a relaxed stroll through the changes in Billy Strayhorn’s "My Little Brown Book." Monder’s atmospheric, otherworldly guitar effects lead into the theme stated by Preminger on throaty tenor sax. The tune knocks at the edge of the mainstream in the last few bars. Surprisingly, considering the outstanding sonics throughout this album, I found the upright bass to sound a bit tubby here, an anomaly cleared up beautifully by the next track, Preminger’s own composition, "Semenzato." This falls outside categorization. It’s an organic, meditative entity featuring effects-driven guitar by Monder and a fine bass solo by Patitucci. Preminger offers homage to players from Albert Ayler to John Coltrane and Dexter Gordon. A beautiful interpretation of the evergreen "A Ghost of a Chance" follows, although you’d be hard-pressed to identify it as such. It features Preminger’s full-bodied tenor sax. The side’s closer, the short piece by Paraguayan guitar master Agustin Barrios Mangore, "Una Limosna por el Amor Dios (Alms for the Love of God)," finds Preminger caressing the upper reaches of his horn in this 70-year-old tremolo study performed as haunting, jazz-infused chamber music. The close miking uncovers the last note as more air and reed than anything else.

Side two opens with the languid "Porcelain," my go-to track for an example of closely miked tenor sax, which epitomizes the sound of jazz for me. If you’ve ever wondered how a vibrating reed can produce musical sounds, listen closely as layer after layer of detail is exposed. "Try a Little Tenderness," follows, a standard that Preminger deconstructs then reassembles, traversing a smorgasbord of styles he fuses into one unique voice. In contrast to Patitucci’s straightforward bass, Monder’s solo seems launched from a distant galaxy, so ethereal is his sound. Ironically enough, this tune is as close to mainstream jazz as you’ll hear on this album -- and it’s my favorite. Ellington’s laconic, wistful composition "Melancholia" features a fine bass solo by Patitucci and has never sounded as compelling as heard here. Breaking from the pensive, almost blue mood of the songs preceding it, Dylan’s 1964 ballad "Boots of Spanish Leather" receives a Bossa Nova vibe recalling the decades-earlier collaborations between Stan Getz and JoŠo Gilberto. Substitute Monder’s electric for Gilberto’s acoustic guitar and you’re there. In a further nod to the past, the song even ends in a fade out. The album’s closer, "Some Other Time," from the 1944 musical On the Town, finds Preminger in lock step with John Coltrane as he carries the melody into the clouds per the latter’s Ballads album. Throughout both sides of the album, Billy Hart’s stick work, Ben Monder’s otherworldly guitar fills and John Patitucci’s strong bass lines support, complement and enhance Preminger’s very personal sax stylings.

The recording is immediate and intimate, seemingly putting you within reach of the musicians. If only all contemporary recordings sounded this good! Contributing largely to the sound is Marc Urselli’s engineering, East Side Sound’s studio and Alex DeTurk’s mastering at Masterdisk. The heavyweight, whitish vinyl, courtesy of the French MPO pressing, is flawless and dead quiet.

As with previous Newvelle releases, the presentation here is gorgeous. A popular Bernard Plossu photograph from his portfolio °VŠmonos! Bernard Plossu in Mťxico, reproduced on thick matte stock, graces the front of the gatefold jacket. Inside is another Plossu photo, this time an atmospheric nighttime color image. Interestingly, there are two inner sleeves. The one containing the record is plain white and lined with vinyl-friendly tissue paper. The other, into which I slipped the sleeved LP, is thicker, glossy and printed with the poem "Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?" by Tracy K. Smith.

If you’re a Newvelle Records subscriber, you know what to expect from each new release. If you’re not, get out that checkbook and sign up. This music is too urgent to be missed.

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