A young man with a horn: nattily dressed, with a more-than-capable band of established mainstreamers and a string section..? More of this retro (but without "irony") re-bopping, Young Lion, respectful cats in suits jazz? Not really - on Close To My Heart, this Jeremy Pelt fellow seems to be tipping his hat to his trumpeting forbears but his approach is what’s so winning. There’s an unhurried, unpretentious quality to his playing: no unnecessary flash of chops; a refreshing sense of conciseness (one of my favorite things - there’s 11 tunes to this 50+ minute set) and if this indeed is a "tribute" to past trumpet kings (Chet Baker, Clifford Brown, Harry "Sweets" Edison, etc.), Pelt is not slavish about it - he seems to have learned his lessons, digested fully his influences and has at it in an unassuming manner that feels timeless (versus "stuck" in an idealized past). He has a soft (but not wimpy), breathy tone that aims, like the great ballad players before him, to seduce rather than dazzle, caressing a melody rather than using it for a point of departure. The strings - present on roughly half the album - are rich and tasty as good syrup, as opposed to "syrupy" - like that stuff on your pancakes or French toast, it’s something that’s part of the overall flavor, as opposed to being merely (schmaltzy) sweetening. All this, and Mulgrew Miller plays the most tasteful/tastiest piano this side of Hank Jones. For older listeners who think they don’t make ‘em like Sweets or Charlie Shavers anymore, and/or the younger ones who’ve not yet been exposed to such genteel jazz, dig in ASAP - you need this.
Artist / Group Name:Jeremy Pelt
CD Title:Close To My Heart
Genre:Straight-Ahead / Classic
Musicians:Jeremy Pelt (trumpet & flugelhorn), Mulgrew Miller (piano), Peter Washington (bass), Lewis Nash (drums), Meg Okura (violin), Joyce Hammann (violin), Ron Lawrence (viola), Dave Eggar (cello), David ORourke (guitar)'