On the weekend of December 9 and 10, the quartet hit the stage at The Side Door Jazz Club on Old Lyme, Connecticut, (Preminger's home state) and played 4 sets on inspired music. His new CD, "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground" (self-released), is the result of that weekend, 9 tracks of impressive group play, strong solos, and fascinating arrangements. The title track opens the album ever-so-quietly, the saxophonist literally whispering the Blind Willie Johnson melody. When Palmer enters, one can hear the gospel calls inches interactions with Preminger. The rhythm section never rushes (listen for Cass's melodic counterpoint) ad the piece captures the anguish of the composer, respects his feelings, and makes the listener feel these "blues". The group takes Canned Heat's "Future Blues" (from 1970, a relatively new song in the program) and slow it down. Preminger and Palmer trade solos, never pushing too hard, leaving room for Froman's fine solo turn. Blues fans will recognize most of the songs; pieces such as the mournful "Spoonful Blues" (Charley Patton's song, not the Willie Dixon classic recorded by Howlin' Wolf and Cream) and Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain" have graceful melodies played with respect before moving onto solos that build intensity and display fiery interactions. Richard M. Jones' "Trouble in Mind" (first recorded in 1926 by Bertha "Chippie" Hill with Louis Armstrong) find the musicians digging deep, the soloists "testifying" while Cass's fundamental bass lines hold down the bottom.
"Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground" is steeped in the blues music that started in the Mississippi Delta and then, with the Great Black Migration of 1920-1975, moved up North to the industrial cities of the Midwest and out West to the Pacific shores. That music became "jump blues" and electric blues, rhythm 'n' blues and, eventually, rock & roll. Noah Preminger and this fine band take these expressions of sorrow, pain and faith, give them respect but also take the music into new territory. You can feel the "roots"of this music while you hear how far it's come as it continues to grow in the mind and hands of these explorers.
For more information, go to www.noahpreminger.com.
Here's the Quartet live at The Side Door digging into the Mississippi John Hurt tune:
As someone who listens to a lot of different strains of jazz, it's a real joy to get an album that challenges your expectations and continually surprises you, especially on subsequent spins. Take an hour to dive into "Stranger Days", do that over a period of week until the music has captured your soul. The adventure is worth every minute of each hour. Adam O'Farrill is a young man with much to offer and an future that looks to be so bright. In fact, so does his brother Zach as do Walter Stinson and Chad Lefkowitz-Brown. This is such good music, don't pass it by!
For more information, go to www.sunnysiderecords.com/artist.php?id=545&O-Farrill&Adam.
Here's a tune to dive into: