Lucid Culture


A Deliciously Unorthodox Sax-and-Bass Duo Album From Noah Preminger and Kim Cass

Musical meme of the year, 2020: making albums by trading files over the web. One unorthodox but resoundingly successful one is Thunda, the new duo record by tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger and his longtime bassist Kim Cass, streaming at Bandcamp. Preminger is a known commodity, as likely to opt for erudite savagery as for finely detailed portraiture, but Cass is a revelation here.

The sound may be pure jazz, the architecture is classical: themes and variations, with close attention to maintaining a mood or growing a sturdy thicket of ideas from the roots outward. Each artist frequently echoes the other. Preminger has messed around with electronics before: he does that with a pitch pedal here, but what’s most unusual about this rare pairing is that he overdubs himself on record for the first time. Each of the mostly brief numbers here are based on purely improvised themes: the conversational chemistry and cabin fever energy of the two musicians is visceral.

The opening number, Slaughter has a rapidfire swing, Cass branching out with carbonated intensity from Preminger’s nimble riffage, in contrast with the keening one-man sax chorale that drifts in enigmatically. Me You Sad – now THAT’s a song title for 2020, huh? – has Cass taking the lead with an elegant, reverbtoned staccato and clustering chords versus Preminger’s gritty sustain.

The flurrying riffs and balletesque pulse of Chron are tantalizingly brief, fertile terrain for further exploration. Cass punctuates Iris, a broodingly modal sax chorale, with an icepick minimalism. Tradr Hoez – yeah, the place that tried to regiment customers into using one-way aisles – has an aptly sardonic bustle, Cass matching Preminger’s increasingly frantic attack.

Drone is actually anything but: it’s a warmly lyrical ballad with some nimble clustering from the bass underneath disquieting, hovering high atmospherics. Sometimes the sax layers evoke a melodica, or an accordion, as in the warm gospel allusions of Slow Ridah, which suddenly goes off like a Fourth of July sparkler.

Ricky is even catchier, but with dizzying, multitracked polyrhythms over Cass’ spring-loaded clusters. Roobz starts out folksy and funny, but Cass takes it in the opposite direction. The two wind up the record with Huck It, Cass’ playful harmonics and restlessly rhythmic attack beneath airy ambience that Preminger finally can’t resist escaping. Until these two can get back into the studio or onstage and do this, with or without more bandmates, this deceptively off-the-cuff collaboration will keep you entertained.

April 4, 2021 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment