Jazz CD Reviews

Jeremy Pelt – The Talented Mr. Pelt – High Note

It just keeps getting better….

Published on January 17, 2011

Jeremy Pelt – The Talented Mr. Pelt – High Note

Jeremy Pelt – The Talented Mr. Pelt – High Note HCD 7216, 52:29 ****:

(Jeremy Pelt, trumpet and Flugelhorn; J.D. Allen, tenor sax; Danny Grissett, piano; Dwayne Burno, bass; Gerald Cleaver, drums)

It was virtually the same time last year that we reviewed Jeremy Pelt’s last High Note CD, Men of Honor. I remarked then that it was unique in this time period when jazz artists get together for one-off productions and then go their separate ways; that Jeremy Pelt has kept together his working band for some three years now.  There is not a weak link in Jeremy’s band. Plus, they just keep on getting tighter in their interplay. They swing hard, and they swagger in their arrangements. Pelt is at the peak of his powers with the power and range of Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard in their seminal years. The rest of the band is whip smart and eager to strut their talents.

“Pandora’s Box” burns from the onset. Gerald Cleaver’s cymbal work drives Pelt, and Grissett provides fills. J.D. Allen steps up and blows strong mid-range choruses till Grissett has his time center stage. We’re off to a good start. “All My Thoughts of You” shows the lyrical side of the group as both Pelt and Allen blow sweetly with soft drum swirls by Cleaver. Rudy Van Gelder is on board with engineering, mixing, and mastering duties and the sound mix is, as expected, spot on. The woodiness of Burno’s bass is captured and the miking of piano and drums is upfront and crystal clear without needing a expensive sound system to appreciate.

“Paradise Lost” written by Anthony Wonsey, is taken in waltz time and the ensemble playing strength of a well-oiled machine shows. Again Cleaver is the general keeping the troops focused, and Allen shows he can match Pelt in intensity. “When the Time is Right” follows and although the energy flow diminishes a bit, these pros do not simply go through the paces, they just glide along smoothly.

“In Love Again” is most known for its vocal version by Blossom Dearie. Here Jeremy’s flugelhorn reinvigorates the tune with some introspective blowing from deep in his soul.
I dug the bass solo by Dwayne Burno on “Only”. Burno also wrote the insightful liner notes for the CD as he explores in great detail the inspiration and techniques the band follows for each track. Dwayne’s playing on this track provides the pulse that is heard in the center. Danny Grissett’s contribution to “Only” is also very prominent as he adds a sheen that makes this track special.

Pelt’s “David and Goliath” takes the CD out with intense interplay that is reminiscent of Miles, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams in the mid-60s. Fast company certainly, but should the talented Mr. Pelt and his band continue on their voyage together, then they are heading in a complementary direction.

TrackList: Pandora’s Box, All My Thoughts Are of You, Paradise Lost, When the Time is Right, Pulse, In Love Again, Only, David and Goliath

— Jeff Krow

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