Jeremy Pelt: Close To My Heart (2003)
There's been a noble tradition of young jazz trumpeters recording with strings – think of Clifford Brown and Chet Baker – and 27 year old Jeremy Pelt puts his very individual spin on this tradition with the release of Close to My Heart, his third album. He shares some affinities with Clifford Brown: a bright crip tone, a showstopping virtuosity improvising, and a soft spot in his heart for romantic standards. But Pelt balances his sentimentality with a rigorous sense of tightly structured solos and a penchant for choosing adventurously unlikely tunes to practice his romantic sensibility.
For example, this disc opens amazingly with a cover of Mingus's "Weird Nightmare," not exactly the expected placid fare for a trumpet-with-strings project. The small string section, essentially a classical string quartet augmented with guitar, is gorgeously arranged by David O'Rourke not to sweeten the Mingus tune but to actually make it sound more nightmarishly beautiful. The strings create a spacious and complex tapestry which meshes effectively with Pelt's meaty solos.
Pelt is a thinking player who digs into Ellington's "Don't You Know I Care" and Frank Loesser's "In Your Eyes" and consistently manages to come up with fresh ideas. He also intelligently plays off openings offered by pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Peter washington, and particularly drummer Lewish Nash. Nash puts an extra bit of push into slow numbers that contributes to a sense of edgy romantic odyssey rather than romantic sightseeing. Close to My Heart solidifies Pelt's reputation as a major contemporary trumpeter with a imaginatively questing spirit and chops to match.
Track Listing: Weird Nightmare; Excerent; Take Me In Your Arms; 502 Blues (Drinkin' & Drivin'); All My Life; Don't You Know I Care; Pioggia Di Perugia; It's A Beautiful Evening; This Is The Moment; Why Try To Change Me Now?; In Your Eyes.
Personnel: Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Mulgrew Miller: piano; Peter Washington; bass; Lewis Nash: drums.