Hilary Noble is a Boston-based saxophonist, percussionist, composer, and producer who has one foot in post-bop and modal jazz and the other in Latin jazz -- mostly Afro-Cuban jazz, although he has also acknowledged Latin forms that range from Dominican merengue to Venezuelan joropo. Noble likes to call his music "Latin free jazz," but his debut album, Noble Savage, isn't free jazz in the way that Albert Ayler, Charles Gayle, Cecil Taylor, and Ornette Coleman are free jazz. Noble Savage isn't an album of atonal playing but rather, combines melodic post-bop with Afro-Cuban rhythms; if a listener were to compare Noble Savage to Coltrane's albums, he/she would have to say that it has more in common with Coltrane's early-‘60s work than with the blistering free jazz that he provided in 1966 and 1967 (after parting company with pianist McCoy Tyner). Although Hilary is usually a woman's name, Hilary Noble is a man -- and he's a man who plays three different saxophones (tenor and alto as well as soprano) when he isn't playing Afro-Cuban percussion. Noble's playing and composing (he wrote about 90-percent of the material on Noble Savage) owe a lot to the modal post-bop breakthroughs of explorers like Yusef Lateef, Eric Dolphy, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, and, of course, Coltrane. But he is also well aware of the Latin jazz and salsa contributions of Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Willie Bobo, and others.
Over the years, Noble has been employed as a sideman by artists who range from Bob Moses to drummer/percussionist Bobby Sanabria (who employed him in his band Ascension). And Sanabria was the person Noble contacted when he was ready to record an album of his own. In 2001, Noble and Sanabria produced Noble Savage, which employs some members of Ascension (including pianist John Di Martino and acoustic bassist Boris Kozlov). In 2002, Noble Savage was released by Whaling City Sound, a small jazz independent label based in New Bedford, MA. ~ Alex Henderson