Noah Preminger

Noah Preminger (Sam Robles / May 9, 2012)

Tenor saxophonist and Canton native Noah Preminger has settled nicely into a busy New York City jazz existence. He regularly leads two quartets — the first, a piano-less group with forward-thinking guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Matt Pavolka and drummer Colin Stranahan, and the second with pianist Dan Tepfer, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Rudy Royston — and gigs with other top-notch players, including pianist Fred Hersch. Last year, Preminger released "Haymaker," his second album for Palmetto Records (and third overall), an album of atmospheric set pieces and uplifting romps, recorded in a single day with the Monder-based quartet. He prefers an organic model of composition, where written-out sections introduce pairs of instruments, which then fade away to let others approach, with areas of embedded improvisation dotting the path.

"What happens in jazz is the group plays the melody, then there's solo, solo, solo, and everyone comes together at the end." Preminger said. "It's the most boring thing in the world."

On "Haymaker," Preminger's full, round tone and romantic ballad playing are perfect foils for Monder's avant-garde leanings. Preminger is clearly interested in the push-pull of improvisation and composition. He's also generous with his time on the phone, explaining in detail how he arrives at the sounds in his head; when we spoke, he performed a new tune, "Semenzato," on an electric piano. It's a brooding, minor-key work, with a melody that weaves chromatically through evocative chord changes. He wrote it for his girlfriend who's currently living in Spain. "She's — how can I say this — she has a dark side," Preminger said.

After receiving his training at Boston's New England Conservatory, Preminger moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., where he now lives. Another Preminger group, the Superpowers, has been gigging steadily as well — there's a May 16 gig at Black-Eyed Sally's listed on his website's calendar — and just this past weekend they completed their debut album. The Superpowers pulls Preminger directly within the orbit of the fertile jam-band scene, where musicians like guitarist John Scofield and groove-jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood play to packed houses. It's a zone where jazz musicians can work bigger rooms and maybe land a heftier paycheck, Preminger said.

The saxophonist returns to Connecticut for a gig at Old Lyme's Side Door Jazz Club on Friday, March 14,  with the piano-based group. It's not exactly a homecoming, but sort of.

"I've been living in New York for some years now, and I went to school in Boston," Preminger said. "So anywhere on the East Coast really feels like home. I might have more friends from Connecticut come to see me perform."

NOAH PREMINGER QUARTET performs on Friday, March 14,  at the Side Door Jazz Club, 85 Lyme St., Old Lyme. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Information: thesidedoorjazz.com.