On Before the Rain, tenor saxophonist-composer Noah Preminger makes it clear that his widely praised debut album, Dry Bridge Road, was no fluke. His new album, his first for Palmetto Records, is marked by the same sense of adventure and exploration, but even greater lyricism, compositional depth, and group interplay. Working with familiar associates, pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist John Hebert, and drummer Matt Wilson, Preminger opts for an album of mostly ballad-tempo performances that give everyone in the band the opportunity to delve into some highly nuanced solo and ensemble playing. An album of ballads is not what one usually expects from a young player on his second release. But by defying expectations, Preminger has created one of the most powerfully beautiful discs of the year.