Album review: "Soul"
By Mike Joyce
Friday, May 4, 2012
Apparently jazz trumpeter-flugelhornist Jeremy Pelt wasn't in a mood to tinker when he recorded his new album, "Soul," whose succinct title sums up the mission of the collection of ballads and blues.
But Pelt didn't arrive at the studio empty-handed: He composed six of the eight tracks. It's this infusion of fresh material with a familiar post-bop slant that makes "Soul" so enjoyable. Add a top-notch quintet that prominently features Pelt, tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen and pianist Danny Grissett, and the album consistently lives up to its billing.
The bittersweet opener, "Second Love," warmly shaded by Pelt, Allen and, on brushes, drummer Gerald Cleaver, quietly sets the stage for a series of unusually expressive performances inspired by original tunes, some hauntingly blue ("The Ballad of Ichabod Crane"), others rhythmically churning ("Tempest"). The Pelt-Allen pairings add burnished colors to several tracks neatly enhanced by Cleaver and bassist Dwayne Burno. Vocalist Joanna Pascale's torchy allure couldn't be more apparent on Sammy Cahn's "Moondrift," while the George Cables contribution, "Sweet Rita Suite Part 2: Her Soul," perfectly suits the occasion.
The primary focus, however, is on Pelt's well-wrought compositions and a string of uncluttered arrangements that take full advantage of his quintet's soulful lyricism and thrust.