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Jeremy Pelt: A Man of Honor

By Published: April 12, 2010
AAJ: What's the best feeling you've ever had, while playing?

JP: Just being able to be in the same room with a lot of my heroes, that's the best feeling. Being on stage and them not looking at me like, "You need to get your ass off the stage." That's the best feeling I've ever had right there 'cause that's what's important. A lot of cats, because they haven't been exposed to the opportunity to play with the great masters of music, probably can't really relate to it in a way because they don't have that experience, and they don't care that they haven't been on stage with a legend, and they don't know about the importance of that; what that does to their own character and their own playing, and what it says to the people that are watching them. And when it comes to me, I grew up completely old school, respect your elders, and learn as much as you can.

I spent summers sitting next to my grandfather, three months a year, you know what I mean? Listening to the old stories. So it has to do with the way I was raised. It's kinda like when you were told as a kid, "Don't be interrupting the old folks when they're talking, don't be having any kind of opinion." So, it's exciting, it's exhilarating when you're able to finally have an opinion. When somebody that's way, way more experienced, somebody that came to the city 20-some odd years before you were born, and made their mark on the music and now has you in the band, and might ask you, "What do you want to play?" And they want to extend you that respect as a peer, as a fellow musician, it makes all the difference in the world; and that's always going to be the best feeling that I've had, in regards of what I do, because that's what motivates what I do.

It's like I saw this one interview with Miles Davis by Bryant Gumbel for BBC done in 1982, and Miles was just being playful and answering the questions directly. And when it comes down to the real thing, he said, "Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
would say that I'm one of the best." That's what I'm talking about—it's always going to come down to the same thing, being accepted and respected by those who were here before me, the people that I look up to and respect, listened to on record and continue to listen to for years, encouraging and telling me that I sound good. After all is said and done, it still is going to have to come down to the truth. Like Miles, all perceptions aside of his arrogance, drug use, all of that gets swept under the rug, and all its left is the truth, and the truth is that still, at that point, 1982, was still that boy from St. Louis that came up there and wanted to follow his idol around, which was Dizzy. Important.

Selected Discography

Jeremy Pelt, Men of Honor (HighNote, 2010)

Jeremy Pelt, November (MAXJAZZ, 2008)

Jeremy Pelt and Wired, Shock Value (MAXJAZZ, 2007)

Jeremy Pelt, Identity (MAXJAZZ, 2005)

Jeremy Pelt, Close to My Heart (MAXJAZZ, 2003)

Jeremy Pelt, Profile (Blue Moon, 2002)

Photo Credits

Page 1: Jimmy Katz

Page 2: Courtesy of Jeremy Pelt

Pages 3, 4, 6: Hans Speekenbrink
Page 5: C. Andrew Hovan

Pages 7, 8: Heronski

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