Noah Preminger & Kim Cass
_Thunda_ Dry Bridge Records
Duos are always something else. We have plenty of examples, not only in Jazz, but in other styles. Duos’ records are built not only with what there is, but also with what is not there or what could have been. They are both reality and illusion, certainty and desire, possibilities and limitations. And that’s why the listener plays a key role in duos’ records: because there’s a lot of space for interpretation. It’s not only what you listen to, but also how you fill that space. In that sense, duos’ albums can be a little tiring for the listener but Thunda is not the case. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: Thunda is a journey of speed, melody, textures and improvisation, with moments where Preminger and Cass reach excellence.
Chron · Noah Preminger · Kim Cass
Thundah (Dry Bridge Records is the result of months of communication between the two long time friends and fellow musicians. When the COVID-19 pandemic led to cancellation of every tour and every recording plan for all, a lot of artists turned to technology as a safe outlet for creating and recording music. With empty schedules ahead, creative minds do what they know best and between July 11th and December 20th of 2020, saxophonist and bass player exchanged hours of improvised material with the intention of shaping it into something they can call an album. They both met in 2004 in their college days but didn’t start working together until Cass moved to New York City. Since then, the two have worked together in countless performances and collaborations, including more than half a dozen of Preminger’s records. Thunda is proof of how much they know each other.
Despite the exceptional conditions (Preminger’s said in an interview: “This is the first recording I’ve made remotely and entirely at home and it’s also the first time I play and layer multiple instruments, all entirely improvised”), the invisible connection between Noah and Kim travels through wireless impulses and encoded ones and zeros to flourish as something beautifully honest, relevant and revealing.
In 31 minutes, Preminger and Cass display all the virtues they are known for in the contemporary jazz scene: solid technique, furious velocity, sixth sense for melody and, most of all, vision. One couldn’t imagine the editing work this album needed, especially when there’s no physical connection between the musicians. The high speed unison in Tradr Hoez challenges the listener and draws a smile in the face: if they can do that on their own, what could they do together? That idea also leads to a bigger one: the first reason for music to exist is to make us less alone. Thunda was the tool these two brilliant musicians had to feel less alone, to be there for each other in some way. And it sounds exactly like that.
As stated, each track begins with an improvised idea. “We’re really pushing each other to come up with new, challenging ways to elevate the music to different places: harmonically, rhythmically, texturally and most importantly, compositionally”, said Preminger. “Part of what makes creating the music for Thunda so thrilling and adventurous is that there are no predetermined forms, improvisational sections, rhythmic concepts or sets of chord changes. Each song is constructed linearly while taking into account the mood and textures until we’ve decided that it’s done”.
On many more records than desirable, this freedom ends up in boredom: the musicians only play for their own pleasure, destroying the inner dialogue or, even worse, turning their backs to the audience. When that happens, there’s no difference between virtuosity and masturbation. But in jazz, like in sex, everybody loves to be a part of the action. Thankfully, it’s not the case of Thunda. Well done, sirs.