Every year, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt releases a new album on the High Note label and I look forward to it each year, almost more than I do Christmas. Like any artist, he tweaks the formula each time, finding new ways to make music and express logistically his ideas, seeing what he can make with different tools. Sometimes it’ll be through electric instruments; sometimes through two drummers in different audio channels; sometimes it’ll be through not using a saxophonist in the group, leaving him to bring the only horn to the group. This time out, he went with the latter, along with the lovely textured addition of Jacquelene Acevedo’s percussion to make his 2017 entry, Make Noise!, yet another fine addition to Jeremy Pelt’s body of work.
In his latest configuration, Pelt has pianist Victor Gould playing earthily and soulfully enough to certainly hang, bassist Vicente Archer who has had more than a few run-ins with Pelt but not for a few years now on an album, and drummer Jonathan Barber who has a great grasp of this material. Pelt’s post-bop albums don’t necessarily have a pattern, but they do have a recognizable sound that lends itself to these assorted elements where a mix and match of these tried and true instrumental ingredients highlight these young musicians’ sound while never sacrificing what these trademark elements will always be in Pelt’s oeuvre. It’s easy to find the hypnotic earworm (here it’s “Digression”, last year it was “Rhapsody”, 2015’s “Harlem Thoroughfare”, and so on). It’s easy to find the song bordering so free it’s about to take flight if it (thankfully) weren’t for some sort of anchor (here it’s “Evolution’, 2015’s “Ruminations on Eric Garner”, you know the drill). The ballads always sound like the sweetest ballads ever to float from speakers, the waltzes always sound like waltzes finding every sexy corner the count of three can slinkily find. When one makes something so well every year like clockwork, it helps to know how to do it well.
In saying this, it’s hard to say it’s another Jeremy Pelt album, even though it is. Saying such a thing is like saying Colson Whitehead wrote just another book or Chris Rock made just another stand-up special. Sometimes with consistency, a set to a schedule, a signature, comes a tried and true way of doing what works. With this, a knowing of what one’s voice is, when one wants to push boundaries, one fiddles with the ingredients but such professionalism and craftsmanship knows how to still get things done. In 2017, Jeremy Pelt Makes Noise! It’s something he knows how to do, and he does it particularly well, and I’ll be sure to play this album all year round until next January, and like the rest of his albums, I’ll still be keeping this one in rotation all the while.
JEREMY PELT, trumpet • Victor Gould, piano • Vicente Archer, bass • Jonathan Barber, drums • Jacquelene Acevedo, percussion
MAKE NOISE!, the latest album from trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, is out now on High Note Records.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.