Continuing the struggle to keep up, the Rifftides staff once again plunges into the accumulation of more-or-less-recent albums and selects a few to tell you about. The stacks you see below include the 50 or so review copies of CDs that have come in since January 1. Keeping up seems to be out of the question.
Jeremy Pelt, #Jiveculture (High Note)
Following his 2002 debut recording, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt quickly worked his way into the front rank of a new generation of jazz players. Now with ten CDs of his own and dozens with other leaders, Pelt continues to capitalize on technical skill, a tone of penetrating warmth, and subtle humor centered in rhythmic phrasing. His new collection’s centerpiece is bassist Ron Carter’s “Einbahnstrasse,” which debuted 50 years ago in an essential album by pianist Bobby Timmons with Carter, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and drummer Jimmy Cobb. In Pelt’s new CD the piece is as joyful and—with its unorthodox four-bar bridge—as surprising as ever. In the rhythm section with pianist Danny Grissett and drummer Billy Drummond, Carter is powerful in time and tone, his note placement even more incisive than when he was with Miles Davis at the time of the Timmons album. Grissett and Drummond are impressive throughout.
#Jiveculture has Pelt’s compelling playing on fast pieces including “Einbahnstrasse” and his compositions “Baswald’s Place” and “Desire.” It also has the sensitivity of his ballad work. His soloing in Cole Porter’s “Dream Dancing,” Dave Grusin’s “Love Like Ours” and his own “Akua” are examples of coherence, restraint and the primacy of melody in improvisation and composition. In his 40th year, Pelt is a master of all those elements. This album—odd title and all—is likely to be seen as a milestone in his career.
Hristo Vitchev, In Search Of Wonders (First Orbit Sounds)
Eight tracks into this double CD set, guitarist Vitchev and his rhythm section leap into a piece called “Old Theme.” It is not the first sign of unabated vitality in the collection; Vitchev, drummer Mike Shannon, bassist Dan Robbins and pianist Weber Iago have elevated moments throughout. “Old Theme,” “The Invisible Stairway,” “It May Backfire” and the joyful “Without Words As The Full Moon Shines” provide contrast to the relaxation, lyricism and air of nostalgia that characterize much of the album. A Bulgarian who settled in the San Francisco Bay area, Vitchev has an even guitar touch, creates long improvised lines and has a compositional style that encompasses Latin, Eastern European and post-Coltrane jazz elements. The moments when the quartet seems intent on making background music don’t last long.
Lorraine Feather, Flirting With Disaster (Jazzed Media)
In the notes for her new album, Lorraine Feather writes that the nature of the project suggested the title; “Any time you fall in love, you’re flirting with disaster.” She fulfills that premise’s possibilities in eleven songs with her lyrics. The emotional range runs from the risk implied in the title tune and “Off Center” to the slightly aggressive vibe of “Be My Muse,” the au courant hipness of “I’d Be Down With That,” the lyricism of “Feels Like Snow” and the declaration of unconditional love in “The Staircase.”
We will slowly climb.
I never said I loved you,
But I knew it all the time.
As usual, her work is seasoned with dashes of irony, subtle humor and sensitivity to the romance, heartbreak and comedy of human failings. She sings clearly, in tune, with good time and, obviously, an understanding of the lyrics. Ms.Feather worked with talented musicians who have collaborated with her as co-writers and accompanists on several previous albums. They include pianists Russell Ferrante, Dave Grusin and Shelly Berg; guitarists Grant Geissman and Eddie Arkin, drummer Greg Field and the intriguing violinist Charlie Bisharat.
More recent-listening reviews coming soon