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Noah Preminger — Zigsaw
((Not on label) no#, 2019, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2020-02-26

Zigsaw Cover art

Noah Preminger’s latest release finds him at the helm of a group featuring Jason Palmer (trumpet), John O’Gallagher (alto sax), Kris Davis (piano), Kim Cass (bass), Rudy Royston (drums), and Rob Schwimmer (synthesizer). Together with Preminger’s tenor sax, this ensemble provides a fuller sound that is notably different than I’ve heard from him before. Zigsaw presents a single piece of music just shy of 49 minutes in length which was composed by Steve Lampert. The liner notes present an overview of how the piece is constructed, comprising 12 sections, each of which is built using the same template with different harmonic material. It’s a fascinating backdrop to the music, but being aware of it is not necessary for enjoyment. This is a really excellent piece of long-form avant-jazz played by a superb group of musicians, and while it has no relation to the blues on any level, some aspects are reminiscent of Steve Coleman’s work. Schwimmer’s synthesizer is one of the factors that really sets Zigsaw (the name combines “zigzag” and “jigsaw”) apart from anything else, with quirky tones more like experimental electronic music than jazz fusion. The brief themes (which function a little like the head of a standard jazz tune) introducing each section are kicked off by the synth and generally feature odd arpeggiated notes that are then used as the basis for the subsequent improvisations. This makes for an intriguing flow of ideas, presenting improvisations of varying moods and lengths that wander here and there only to come back to another ensemble section that is unique but related to what’s gone before. I can think of nothing quite like Zigsaw, and it counts as one of the most creative jazz releases of 2019.

Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): Noah Preminger

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