I love finesse, but I’m pretty sure it’s the push and shove of jazz – the music’s combustive vigor – that hooked me early on. That explains why I’ve been down with Jeremy Pelt’s stuff for a while now. In the large, the NYC-based trumpeter leads bands that put physicality up front. He turned 40 last November, but his music’s intrepid nature remains super obvious. Even when it’s taking time out for a tender sigh, Make Noise! is a testament to improv’s hard-hitting persona.
A new quintet helps the trumpeter execute his plans. Drummer Jonathan Barber has a way with splash and pianist Victor Gould stresses the percussive aspects of his instrument. The title cut is storm, but not in a monolithic way; there plenty of nuances in the hubbub, and swag surely marks the path. It’s born of blunt authority – listen to the clout Barber chooses to build on – but rides a string of sophisticated maneuvers. Even when the band is floating on a mid-tempo bauble, as it is on “Prince” and “Cry Freedom,” there’s a layer of vehemence at work.
Ballads don’t deter Pelt from this path either. “Digression” is peaceful, and the trumpeter’s horn boasts an eerie sense of romance. But it’s designed on a repeating pulse, and its tender façade has a feisty little bottom. This is where Pelt trades raucousness for insistence. When the boss mutes his horn and walks on the sunny side of the street, there’s another shift in temperament. “Chateau D’Eau” finds a way to wax mysterious while keeping thing chipper. This mélange of moods lines Make Noise! with intrigue. It’s perpetually catholic in its emotions, but that commitment to volition is always its ace in the hole.