Jeremy Pelt says in a news release that Identity concerns "the expectation that I have placed upon myself. More specifically, it deals with me finding my own identity." His young sidemen share his commitment to depart from the predictability of standard jazz practice. His playing is stunning in range, technique and tonal qualities. Pelt's originals have bewitching qualities, particularly on the slower pieces. "Eye of the Beholder" uses echo, slight reverberation and Fender Rhodes vibrato to produce a haunting atmosphere.
The rap ethos and Miles Davis' electric period are elements of the world in which Pelt grew up, so his introduction of hip-hop sensibility and electronic wah-wah effects into "Scorpio" is natural to him. The same might be said about the stutter rhythm of "Suspicion," which has an astonishing Pelt solo. When "Suspicion" and "Angular" break out of broken rhythms and into straightahead swinging, the contrast brings relief. If musicians of Pelt's generation are moving away from 4/4 (or 3/4 or 5/4) swing, many of us will miss the visceral charge and emotional fulfillment that unimpeded swing provides. In any event, this fourth Pelt album is an interesting waypoint in the career of an evolving musician. And his ballad playing is gorgeous.