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Jeremy Pelt: Identity

Tom Greenland By

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Jeremy Pelt is a man in search of himself and a sonic identity that will enshrine him in the pantheon of trumpet greats. For the young lions and lionesses of jazz, this is a daunting task, given the hordes of spirits-of-jam-sessions-past that haunt the hallowed halls of jazzdom. Certainly Pelt is a contender: his tone and technique are equal to that of Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard, two noticeable stylistic influences, and his harmonic conception and compositional flair call to mind the inside-outness of Wayne Shorter or the modal adventurousness of Woody Shaw and Joe Henderson.

Ever since his fine debut recording, Profile (2002), Pelt has continued to grow as a player and a writer; Identity—his second release for MaxJazz and fourth overall as a leader—is his most mature work to date. Unlike its immediate predecessor, To My Heart, which consisted entirely of cover tunes, Identity returns Pelt to the writer's seat, showcasing his considerable talents as a composer. There are many fine tunes here, including "Eddie's Story, "Celestial, "Haiku, and "Dusk, featuring guitarist Mike Moreno. The band, with bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Eric McPherson, does an admirable job of setting these compositional gems against a sympathetic background that enhances their luster.

The album is mellow and atmospheric, and Pelt plays flugelhorn on many of the cuts, superbly accompanied by Frank LoCrasto on piano and Fender Rhodes. The blowing is tempered and to-the-point, in service of the songs rather than the soloists. Soprano saxophonist/bass clarinetist Myron Walden makes a brief but memorable cameo appearance on "Scorpio (a dangerously derivative ode to Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis), and Pelt and vibraphonist Warren Wolf share a solo on "Angular, throwing ideas back and forth with dexterous repartée.

Developing a distinctive voice is an ongoing process for jazz artists. Has Pelt discovered his "true sound with this latest venture? "Not yet, he admits in the liner notes, although he has clearly made significant strides towards that goal. One can only hope he will keep on keeping on.

Track Listing: Re-Invention; Eddie's Story; Seek; Suspicion; Eye of the Beholder; Celestial; Angular; Haiku; Scorpio; Dusk.

Personnel: Jeremy Pelt: trumpet, flugelhorn, effects; Frank LoCrasto: piano, electric piano, organ, synthesizer, effects; Vicente Archer: bass; Eric McPherson: drums; Mike Moreno: guitar; Warren Wolf: vibraphone; Myron Walden: soprano saxophone & bass clarinet on "Scorpio."

Title: Identity | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: MAXJAZZ

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