It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to be named Noah and call your record Before the Rain, but maybe this tenor saxophonist/composer doesn’t believe a flood is coming. Maybe it was just some sort of cosmic coincidence. The important thing is that the eight and a half minute title composition is a lovely, gentle jazz exploration that softly suggests a cloudy day where nothing seems to be happening — except, perhaps, that there’s some kind of breeze.
Preminger plays tenderly. He doesn’t engage in long, windy solos. The backing trio, pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist John Hebert, and drummer Matt Wilson, keeps the tempo bright without ever getting too lively. The effect stimulates reflection.
This is true of the other eight tracks as well. About half of the cuts are self-penned ballads, two more are compositions written by the pianist, and there’s a bouncy Ornette Coleman song, “Toy Dance”, and two items from the great American songbook: Rodgers and Hart’s “Where or When” and Sammy Cahn and company’s “Until the Real Thing Comes Along”. The instrumentalists always maintain control, even when playing loose.
Preminger may be prophesying that there’s a storm coming, but he and his combo suggest we all remain calm.