Jazz CD Reviews

Jeremy Pelt – Soul – High Note

January should be called Jeremy Pelt Month…

Published on January 9, 2012

Jeremy Pelt – Soul – High Note

Jeremy Pelt – Soul – High Note HCD 7233, 53:45 ****½:

(Jeremy Pelt, trumpet and Flugelhorn; JD Allen, tenor sax; Danny Grissett, piano; Dwayne Burno, bass; Gerald Cleaver, drums; Joanna Pascale, vocal on “Moondrift”)

Looking back a year ago, reviewing Jeremy Pelt’s excellent, The Talented Mr. Pelt, I commented on the fact that the previous January (2010), he had released Men of Honor, a four and a half star release. What was exceptional then continues today, as Pelt with the same quartet backing has just honored the month of January again for the third year in a row with his latest New Year release of, Soul.

Pelt has been a first choice trumpet sideman in the last decade for numerous New York-based releases, and always acquits himself well, due to his mastery of the horn in the style of early Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan, where brashness and swagger mix with melodic lyricism. However, it is as a band leader and composer (Pelt has written six out of the eight tracks on Soul), that Jeremy may establish more of a long term fame. On each of his High Note CDs, he and his mates polish their craft such as Miles Davis’ quartets did in the 60s with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. Of present day trumpeters, only Tom Harrell has kept together a quartet of the quality that Jeremy Pelt fronts.

Soul concentrates on ballads and blues, and provides a warm and enjoyable listening experience. Pelt’s rhythm section of Grissett, Burno, and Cleaver lay a foundation of warm texture for Pelt and Allen for either their solos, or a unison blend that is so inviting. From “Second Love” all the way thru “Tonight,” Team Pelt’s cohesiveness is winning. Much like a fine watch provides its owner with a classy and valued timepiece, Pelt’s group brings the same pleasure to a jazz fan.

With each subsequent release, I continue to marvel at the sparkle and tastiness of Danny Grissett’s piano playing, as well as bassist Burno’s warm expressive lines and drummer Cleaver’s palette of colors. Soul provides an opportunity to appreciate Pelt’s use of the mute and Allen’s soulful tenor lines. The two other outside compositions, George Cables’ “Sweet Rita Suite Part 2: Her Soul,” and Sammy Cahn’s “Moondrift” are great additions as the former’s romanticism is sublime, while “Moondrift” introduces us to Philadelphia vocalist, Joanna Pascale, who gives a reverential reading to this classic tune.

For late night Winter listening with your favorite warming beverage, you can’t do better than a January dose of Soul from the Jeremy Pelt quartet.

Tracklist: Second Love, The Ballad of Ichabod Crane, Sweet Rita Suite Part 2: Her Soul, The Tempest, The Story, Moondrift, What’s Wrong is Right, Tonight…

—Jeff Krow




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