Jeremy Pelt, “Sir Carter”
Jeremy Pelt has always, it seems, had the ability to galvanize a room. As a trumpeter and a bandleader, he knows how to pace his attack, building investment and suspense phrase by phrase. So it’s good news almost by definition that his new album on HighNote is a live recording, chronicling a blazing set at the Sunside/Sunset Jazz Club in Paris. Titled Noir en Rouge – Live in Paris, it features his band with Victor Gould on piano, Vicente Archer on bass, Jacquelene Acevedo on percussion and Jonathan Barber on drums.
This track, “Sir Carter,” is an obvious nod to bassist Ron Carter, who appeared on Pelt’s 2016 album #Jiveculture. The contour of the composition evokes Carter’s work with the 1960s Miles Davis Quintet, but with a punchy update: notice how much bite Acevedo brings to a Latin vamp in the tune, and to a solo in the coda. Pelt’s trumpet solo, of course, is bulletproof.
Emmet Cohen Featuring Ron Carter, “Hindsight”
Speaking of Ron Carter, he’s the guest of honor on Masters Legacy Series Volume 2, a new trio album by pianist Emmet Cohen. (Volume 1 in the series featured another Miles alum, drummer Jimmy Cobb.) As you’d expect, Carter really commits to the occasion, serving not only as the album’s anchor but also as a fulcrum.
A centerpiece of the album is “Salute to Cedar,” a four-part medley of tunes associated with pianist Cedar Walton. First up is “Hindsight,” which used to be a staple of Walton’s trio book. This is a deeply respectful performance of the tune, with Carter featured throughout. And to the extent that Cohen emulates Walton, drummer Evan Sherman does a fine job calling Billy Higgins to mind.
Anat Cohen & Fred Hersch, “Child’s Song”
The generous, companionable rapport between multi-reedist Anat Cohen and pianist Fred Hersch has been well documented on the bandstand, but not previously on record. In that sense Live in Healdsburg, an album releasing this Friday on Anzic Records, arrives not a moment too soon.
Recorded at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival in 2016, it’s a beautiful document of mutual exchange, rooted in melody but alert to every possibility. “Child’s Song” is a pastoral ballad that Hersch composed in dedication to bassist Charlie Haden. (He has recorded it in a duo format before, with soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom.) This version of the song begins in rippling composure, and slowly expands: several minutes in, Cohen’s lyrical digression leads the duo out onto a limb, in free tempo.
Josh Lawrence & Color Theory, “Circles on Black”
Streamlined hard-bop has a smart ambassador in trumpeter Josh Lawrence, whose new album, Contrast, unfolds as a focused argument. Lawrence, who hails from central New Jersey but has made his name in Philadelphia, made this album with the band he calls Color Theory. It features drummer Anwar Marshall, his partner in the Fresh Cut Orchestra, along with alto saxophonist Caleb Curtis, trombonist David Gibson and bassist Luques Curtis. Sharing keyboard duties are Orrin Evans, on acoustic, and Zaccai Curtis, mostly on Fender Rhodes. It features drummer Anwar Marshall, his partner in the Fresh Cut Orchestra, along with alto saxophonist Caleb Curtis, trombonist David Gibson and bassist Luques Curtis. Sharing keyboard duties are Orrin Evans, on acoustic, and Zaccai Curtis, mostly on Fender Rhodes. The airtight bond of this group is evident within moments of the opening track, “Circles on Black,” which has a head neatly arranged for the horn section, like something from the mid-1960s edition of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.
Joe Armon-Jones, “Starting Today”
If you’ve been paying attention to the new stirrings from London (as you should be), you probably know a little about Joe Armon-Jones. A keyboardist and producer known for his role in Ezra Collective, he also works closely with saxophonist Nubya Garcia, one of the breakout artists from that scene. “Starting Today,” the lead single from an album due out on May 4, has a blustery tenor solo from Garcia, starting just before 4:30. But first it unfolds as a club track, over burbling house rhythm, with vocals by Asheber (of Asheber & the Afrikan Revolution). The lyrics portend a critical turning point, especially in the spoken-word poem near the close.