For young trumpeters, the lure of electric Miles is as powerful as the pull of Clifford Brown’s bebop. The list of trumpeters who have at one time or another plugged in and turned on to a Live-Evil vibe with wah-wah pedal fully engaged is long and illustrious. Add Jeremy Pelt to that list. On his aptly titled Shock Value, a live recording from Smoke on New York’s Upper West Side, the trumpeter throws a curveball to those who may have heretofore considered him to be strictly in a purist vein (easy to do, given his history with such straightahead bandleaders as Vincent Herring, Ralph Peterson, Louis Hayes, Frank Foster, James Moody and Gerald Wilson).
Pelt dives deep into the electric pool here. The provocative opener, “Circular,” is underscored by Frank LoCrastro’s stabbing Fender Rhodes and highlighted by guitarist Al Street’s spiky fuzoid six-string work. “Suspicion” is directly out of the Herbie Hancock Thrust playbook. Pelt’s bold, open horn playing here is somewhere up in the Freddie Hubbard zone, while Dana Hawkins’ whirlwind drumming jacks up the proceedings a notch.
“Cause” is an affecting pop ballad reminiscent of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” and features the soaring soprano of vocalist Becca Stevens along with some highly expressive trumpet work from Pelt. They jump back into a Thrust vibe on “Pythagorus,” Pelt’s answer to Hancock’s “Actual Proof,” with bassist Galvin Fallow playing Paul Jackson to drummer Hawkins’ Mike Clark. Pelt’s muted trumpet solo here is bristling with ideas. He also displays uncommon lyricism on the beautiful ballad “Beyond” before breaking out the wah-wah once again on the raucous closer “Scorpio,” based on the opening riff to Miles Davis’ “It’s About That Time” (from In a Silent Way). It’s underscored with funky clavinet and bubbling Mu-tron-inflected bass lines, and throbbing with rock energy, which will no doubt shock purists.