Jazz CD Reviews

Jeremy Pelt – Water and Earth – High Note

Jeremy Pelt - time for a change on his annual January CD release.

Published on February 8, 2013

Jeremy Pelt – Water and Earth – High Note 7247, 56:15 ***½:

(Jeremy Pelt, trumpet; Roxy Coss, soprano and tenor sax; David Bryant, piano, Fender Rhodes, clavinet, Hammond B-3 organ; Frank LoCrasto, keyboards, Fender Rhodes; Burniss Earl Travis, acoustic and electric bass; Dana Hawkins, drums; Jeffrey Haynes, percussion; Ra-Re Valverde, vocals on #6; Angela Roberts and Fabiana Masili, vocals on #1)

January is becoming known as Jeremy Pelt month. For the last four years, Jeremy has released a CD for High Note Records at the beginning of each year. Men of Honor was issued in 2010, followed by The Talented Mr. Pelt, and last year’s Soul. Each featured the same band and we reviewed all of them, and were impressed with Pelt keeping the same band together, and how their cohesion contributed to the outstanding music that was released each year. His band had actually been together for six plus years, an exception to the rule of band leaders changing personnel often.

Pelt is back this year with Water and Earth, and it is evident he wanted to move in a new direction as he has an entirely new backing band, heavy on keyboards and percussion, and even vocals on two tracks. You will find a move to electronic instruments, effects, and some wordless vocals. It is a definite change in mood that takes some repeated listening sessions to appreciate.

Electric keyboards add a mellow vibe to “Reimagine the World” and Pelt’s trumpet prowess has remained in full force, but the wordless vocals here distract rather than enhance the mood for me. “Mystique” features Roxy Cross’ soprano sax backed by Hawkins’ drums and Jeff Haynes’ percussion with Pelt’s background trumpet bringing to mind late ’60s Miles Davis. “In Dreams” is a modal voyage with some gorgeous lyrical lines by Pelt backed by keyboards.

“Boom Bishop” is a wild ride with heavy percussion and a definite move away from mainstream fare from Jeremy. Those who miss the three prior High Note issues will love the straight-ahead ballad, “Meditations on a Conversation We Had,” where Pelt’s lyricism is in full force. “Pieces of a Dream” and “Prior Convictions” return to the electronic arena before the CD ends with a refreshing ballad, “Butterfly Dreams” that will bring to mind Miles, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea of the In a Silent Way period.

Hopefully, we will not need to wait a full year to see what direction Jeremy Pelt is heading in future endeavors.

TrackList: Reimagine the World, Mystique, In Dreams, Boom Bishop, Meditations on a Conversation We Had, Stay, Pieces of a Dream, Prior Convictions, Butterfly Dreams

—Jeff Krow

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