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April 2011

Jeremy Pelt
The Talented Mr. Pelt
HighNote Records

There hasn’t been any orchestrated campaign boosting the profile of trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, but in little more than a decade after his arrival in New York he’s generated considerable excitement. His group’s latest recording comprehensively demonstrates why he’s so well regarded.

Pelt is a technical marvel. He executes intricate solos with ease, plays gorgeous ballads in a tasteful manner, and never lacks flair or sensitivity. At the same time, The Talented Mr. Pelt is a group statement rather than an individual showcase. Pelt deliberately doesn’t dominate the spotlight, and the band achieves a blend of spontaneity and precision that makes these songs a pleasure to hear.

The thematic menu features an interesting blend of romantic songs and tunes with either mythological or religious connotations. But Pelt and his bandmates—tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Gerald Cleaver—aren’t doing gospel on “David & Goliath” or “Paradise Lost.” The former closes the disc in the same demonstrative manner that “Pandora’s Box” begins it. Pelt and Allen are comfortable alternating roles, playing in unison or responding to the rhythm section. The great Rudy Van Gelder’s savvy sonic touches are evident throughout the excellent production.

Yes, it might be Pelt’s upper-register licks, speed and lengthy authoritative phrases on uptempo pieces that reinforce his eminence among current trumpeters. But it’s the group dynamic and the trumpeter’s stunning solos on such pieces as “All My Thoughts Are of You” and “In Love Again” that truly highlight his brilliance.

Originally published in April 2011
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