Jazz in the Afternoon - Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 3OS. 1pm. Free.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016
CD Review: Noah Preminger – Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground
Noah Preminger (ten); Jason Palmer (tpt); Kim Cass (bs); Ian Froman (dms).
(Review by Steven Tulip)
This is Preminger’s second album of covers of Delta Blues from the twenties to the forties with the first in my basket awaiting payday.
We're more accustomed to jazzmen using the Great American Songbook as a springboard for innovation and improvisation but tenor sax player Noah Preminger and his quartet have gone back to the source, interpreting songs from some of the great Country Blues singers based on his obvious fascination and love of ‘the captivating directness and soul-rattling expressiveness' of this music.
The album opens with the title track, a Blind Willie Johnson original from 1927 which finds the leader in melancholy mood with barely audible brushes before bass then trumpet join in, the sax following the trumpet in call and response reminiscent of gospel singing.
This is followed by Hard Times Killin’ Floor Blues, originally by Skip James, which finds the rhythm section and the horns switching effortlessly into double time, first alternating and then in unison and peaking with the rhythm section in double time with a free conversation between sax and trumpet.
Paradoxically, despite the harsh reality of the source material, the album has an optimistic feel reminiscent of the celebratory nature of a southern black funeral bringing some real jouissance, particularly on Blind Lemon Jefferson’s Black Snake Moan, also from 1927.
It's pertinent to the understanding of this music that so many of them were blind or handicapped and, since they were deemed unfit for work, were designated to provide the rhythm for the workforce to follow, while ostensibly entertaining them. These were not stars or celebrities even by the standard of the times and life was still harsh even though many had regional reputations and made records although photos were scarce for the album sleeves.
The mythology of Robert Johnson at the crossroads ensures he's the touchstone for Country Blues in popular culture so Love in Vain is the most recognisable melody here, although no prior familiarity with the source material is necessary for the enjoyment of the album.
The album has nine tracks, all good, with the longest, clocking in at just over 8 minutes, by Bukka White who provided the two tracks on their previous album with both over 30 minutes.
The instrumentation is reminiscent of Gerry Mulligans bands of the fifties and sixties with an absence of piano or any comping instrument though, perhaps because it's tenor rather than baritone, it reminds me more of the second great Miles Davis quintet and Herbie Hancocks willingness to drop out completely for extended periods. I can pay no greater compliment than that. Sample. Release date May 6.
Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt. Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century. The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes. Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)