Jeremy Pelt – Fast Forward, Jeremy – High Note

Jeremy Pelt – Fast Forward, Jeremy – High Note Records HCD 7259, 43:51 [1/21/14] ***½:

(Jeremy Pelt – trumpet; Roxy Coss – soprano and tenor sax, bass clarinet; David Bryant – piano, organ, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer; Frank Locrasto – Fender Rhodes (#2); Chris Smith – acoustic and electric bass; Dana Hawkins – drums and drum programming; Fabiana Masili – vocals (#3,6); Milton Suggs – vocal (#9); Brandee Younger – harp (#9); Jennifer Shaw – cello (#6) )

January continues to be known as Jeremy Pelt’s “month.” As previously mentioned in last year’s Water and Earth release, Jeremy has released a CD in January, now for the fifth straight year. Going back to 2010 with Men of Honor, Pelt has continued the trend again this year with a new issue, due to hit the streets on January 21, 2014. Until last year’s CD, Jeremy had kept his previous band intact for over six years.  Last year, he switched things up with a new band and a new direction. That direction was heavy on keyboards, effects, and some vocals.

His new CD, Fast Forward, Jeremy continues in that vein, but here he dabbles with cello and harp on “Rastros.” Five of last year’s group return, with Roxy Coss, David Bryant, and Dana Hawkins continuing to have major roles.

Pelt has seven compositions here that he either wrote or shared ownership with a band member. Coss penned “The Calm Before the Storm” and “Stars are Free” is a composition by ex-band member, bassist Gavin Fellow.

This new CD fits into the jazz fusion bag, where funk meets Pelt’s lyrical and atmospheric trumpet talents. It shows Jeremy’s attempt to reach out of the standard jazz idioms. His trumpeting skills put him into the upper echelon of young trumpeters, and he is a leading first call trumpet sideman, and remains actively involved in other’s projects (like the Cannonball Legacy Band, where he takes on Nat Adderley’s role).

Solo projects let Jeremy reach out in new ways to explore new idioms. Liner notes indicate that in his latest band, at age 37, he is the oldest member. From being mentored early in his career by the likes of Lewis Nash, it is now Pelt’s turn to return the favor with younger musicians.

“Higby Part 1” is a brief introduction that intrigues and makes the listener wonder what will follow. “Stars are Free” has programmed percussion and keyboard playing that along with Pelt’s trumpet skills brings to mind Miles Davis’ classic In a Silent Way album. Like last year’s CD, Fabian Masili has a wordless vocal on “Princess Charlie,” which was written by Pelt for his young daughter. A funky electric bass groove belies “The Calm Before the Storm” with both Pelt and Coss, who wrote the tune, having solos and Dana Hawkins propelling the polyrhythms.

“Rastros” is a brief foray into chamber music, meeting a Portuguese vocal by Ms. Masili. I found the cello solo by Jennifer Shaw mixing effectively with Coss’ soprano sax and wish the tune was further developed. “In My Grandfather’s Words,” lovingly done for Pelt’s grandfather, has Jeremy strongly setting the theme before the soprano sax and Fender Rhodes take off in swirling patterns. Pelt describes “The Secret Code” as the “most baroque song I’ve written.” Here Coss’ bass clarinet blends with Bryant’s dominant organ chords, and Jeremy’s bracing trumpet lines. It again brings to mind Miles’ electric period of the early ’70s. Milton Suggs’ vocal on “Verse” provides a gentle ending to the CD.

Once again, Jeremy Pelt continues to fascinate on his musical journey…

TrackList: Higby Part 1, Stars are Free, Princess Charlie, The Calm Before the Storm, Glimpse, Rastros, In My Grandfather’s Words, The Secret Code, Verse

—Jeff Krow

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