Taking a more stripped-down approach than the expansive electric path he's been pursuing since 2013's Water and Earth, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt's 2016 album, #Jiveculture, is a visceral exploration of small-group post-bop. It's also Pelt's first album featuring legendary bassist and Miles Davis associate Ron Carter. Also joining Pelt here are longtime bandmates pianist Danny Grissett and drummer Billy Drummond. While Pelt has never completely eschewed swinging, harmonically challenging, straight-ahead jazz, his previous efforts, Water and Earth, Face Forward, Jeremy, and Tales, Musings, and Other Reveries were notable for their more experimental flourishes that combined Pelt's love of hip-hop and electronic dance music with his reverence for '70s-era jazz fusion, à la Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. For much of his career though, Pelt has excelled at the kind of organic, modal-based jazz that Davis played in the mid-'60s. This is the approach he takes on #Jiveculture and one that works perfectly with the addition of Carter, whose languid, supple bass style helped to define modern jazz. Here, Pelt and company dive headlong into a set of originals and lesser-played standards, including a jaunty take on Carter's own "Einbahnstrasse." Similarly compelling is the relaxed midtempo swinger "Dream Dancing," which brings to mind both mid-'50s Miles and '80s Wynton Marsalis. Davis is also evoked on the angular "The Haunting" and the lyrical, sad-eyed ballad "Akua," with Pelt utilizing a plaintive Harmon mute. Ultimately, while #Jiveculture is a more stripped-down, traditional jazz production than Pelt's previous releases, it's also one of his more densely packed, flowing with harmonic and melodic ideas that are all the more striking when set against the straight-ahead framework of a quartet. ~ Matt Collar
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