by Jeff Becker
Joined by trumpeter Jason Palmer, bassist Kim Cass and Ian Froman on drums this ensemble has seen the light of day on two previous releases, Pivot: Live At The 55 Bar and Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground. A blues underpinning is a key factor in Meditations on Freedom giving it a nostalgic feeling of protest songs that string together a lineage of events.
The opener is a Bob Dylan’s civil rights classic “Only a Pawn in Their Game” and takes a respectful approach to Dylan’s purposed pen, before opening up as a group, for jazz improvisational outreach.
Bruce Horsnby is always a master at the simple yet effective tune, and his original “The Way It Is,” is given a modern treatment with an edgy and commanding approach. The civil rights movement would not be complete without ruminating on, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and this is where Preminger really shines, a gritty delta blues feel drives this tune and speaks to generations with emotive influence. Members of the Beatles were known for their more introspective latter years, and who better to portray that moment musically than George Harrison’s “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” which was originally written as a part of his ongoing humanitarian aid project to bring awareness to the plight of Bangladesh refugees.
So, let’s examine Preminger’s originals, which are eloquently mirrored among these iconoclastic covers. “We Have a Dream” conveys a sense of this generations message, while the nature focused “Mother Earth” covers the ever-urgent message of our planet and her needs. The poignancy of “Women’s March” reflects the struggle that women face in today’s times of turning the clock back and losing the rights that have already been fought for by their predecessors. “The 99 Percent” and “Broken Treaties” are a true reflection of where so many feel they are today; the feeling of disparity, the depression of helplessness and the anger and embitterment each day can bring, without any hope.
With eight leader releases and an additional six as a sideman, one cannot help but call Preminger inexhaustible. But it’s not just his fertileness, he also has a focused creative approach that is virile and filled with depth. With the release of Meditations on Freedom, this steps Preminger into a new realm of enlightened discography. One that truly sets him on a path of greatness to come.