Jazz trumpeter Jeremy Pelt is blazing a trail with his hot new release, Close to My Heart on MAXJAZZ Records. The music industry is giving the album much well-deserved praise. It is a must have for your music collection. I had the opportunity to ask Jeremy a few questions about the new album and his music. Please welcome Jeremy Pelt to the j-notes Jazz Lounge.
j-notes: Your music has been classified from neo-bop to straight-ahead jazz. How would you describe your sound?
Jeremy Pelt: “Well, my sound comes out of the trumpeters that I admired the most (i.e.. Miles, Freddie, Booker Little, Lee Morgan, Chet Baker, etc.). At this point, I’m interested in finding ways to manipulate my sound as to reflect the nuances of the human voice.”
j-notes: You have played in every setting from big bands to quartets? Which is your favorite band setting and why?
Jeremy Pelt: “When Bird and Diz, and Roy Eldridge and countless other musicians came up, they all came to prominence through the big band experience. I feel that big bands teach you a lot. After you’ve had enough of that experience, I believe it’s OK to start thinking more selfishly. And that’s where I’m at. I love playing in the “small group” setting because you have a greater sense of individuality. My previous bands have always been sextets and I still dig that, but with this new recording, I felt like something more personal. All of the greats have done a quartet recording, and I wanted to make my presence felt in that arena. Quartet makes you a stronger player.”
j-notes: You have traveled extensively this year. Where has been your favorite place to play?
Jeremy Pelt: “I always LOVE London. Particularly, Ronnie Scott’s. Portugal was great, too.”
j-notes: Will your upcoming tours feature a string section? Will you be coming to the Bay Area in the next year?
Jeremy Pelt: “The thing that I knew coming into this project was that there were certain realities that I’d have to deal with regarding touring with a group of this size and star power! First of all, though I have two past recordings and appear on over twenty others, I’m still not seen as a bandleader by a lot of promoters, booking agents, and club owners. It’s truly a frustrating process. My manager and I are working very diligently on making the transition. I’d love to do as many gigs and tours with the string section as possible, but at the end of the day, you still have to pay the band! As for coming to the Bay area, we’re working on coming there in April. You can always find out where I’ll be on my website, jeremypelt.net.”
j-notes: How do you select the music for your recordings?
Jeremy Pelt: “This recording was different in that my previous two CD’s (Profile, on Fresh Sound New Talent, and Insight, on Criss Cross rec.), feature original music. For this project, I wanted to do standards that weren’t your run-of-the-mill, often performed songs. So, I bought tons of music books from every composer and scanned through them. Also, I listened to a lot of vocalists (Frank Sinatra, Bill Henderson, Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn, are among my favorites) to find songs that were very personal to me. I should also say that, with the inclusion of Frank Loesser’s “In Your Eyes”, (a song that I don’t believe has ever been recorded!) I wanted to make the definitive version of this song. At the risk of sounding conceited, I think I did!”
j-notes: Are there any other types of music you would like to record?
Jeremy Pelt: “There are always ideas that I have popping in my head. My next record will be a definite departure from the current one.”
j-notes: Would you consider scoring a film?
Jeremy Pelt: “I majored in film scoring at Berklee College of Music, so my answer is a resounding “YES”. I’m trying to get into that now. If any filmmakers out there are reading this, I’m your man!!!”
j-notes: What are your thoughts on your comparisons to trumpet great Clifford Brown?
Jeremy Pelt: “If you are a trumpeter doing a ballads record with strings, Clifford is going to pop in everyone’s head! I’m totally comfortable with the comparison. We parallel each other in that, we both REALLY wanted to do this project because of the love of these melodies. Not for reasons of mass appeal, or cashing in. Incidentally, no one ever mentions the great Donald Byrd w/strings album from 1956 (or ’57), that Clare Fischer arranged.. That album is GREAT!!”
j-notes: Who would you like to play with?
Jeremy Pelt: “I’d love to play with Hank Jones, Elvin Jones, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Shirley Horn.”
j-notes: Would you do a tribute album to a great trumpet legend?
Jeremy Pelt: “No. I think those are played out. Do we really need another tribute to Miles, or Dizzy, or Bird album? Did Lee Morgan do a “tribute to Fats Navarro or Clifford Brown album?” I mean, if you want to write a tune I can understand that, but I think the greatest tribute that we can pay is to honor and add to the road that has already been paved for us by those that inspired and influenced us.”
j-notes: What are the stylistic differences between playing the trumpet and flugelhorn?
Jeremy Pelt: “For me, I almost am always more expressive on the Flugelhorn because of the mellowness of the sound. You can manipulate the trumpet.”
j-notes: If you were not an outstanding trumpeter, which profession would you pursue?
Jeremy Pelt: “I love Psychology.”
j-notes: What’s next for Jeremy?
Jeremy Pelt: “Just writing for my band, Creation. The instrumentation is: Trumpet, Bass Clarinet/Alto Sax, Bass, Guitar, Vibraphone, Drums…”
Photo Credit: Jimmy Katz