Beginning with 2005's Identity, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt began exploring '70s and '80s funk and fusion sounds inspired by the works of such luminaries as Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. He continued these funk and electronic explorations on such albums as 2007's Shock Value: Live at Smoke and 2013's Water and Earth. While Pelt has also split his time playing and recording more straight-ahead post-bop albums, his 2014 album, Face Forward, Jeremy, combines the best of his acoustic recordings with the electronic-jazz hybrid sound of Water and Earth. Here, Pelt is joined by his longtime ensemble featuring pianist/keyboardist David Bryant, saxophonist Roxy Coss, bassist Chris Smith, and drummer Dana Hawkins. Also featured are vocalists Fabiana Masili and Milton Suggs, along with Rhodes keyboardist Frank LoCrasto and a handful of string players. This is a languid, atmospheric album that touches upon impressionistic, modal post-bop, soulful contemporary R&B, and groove-oriented '70s-style fusion. Tracks like "Princess Charlie" hang on a wordless vocal melody from Masili (mirrored by Pelt and Coss) that leads into adventurous improvisations from Pelt, Coss, and Bryant. "Rastros," once again showcasing Masili, is an Asian and Brazilian-inflected ballad punctuated by delicate harp lines, with Pelt on a beautiful, muted solo. Elsewhere, cuts like "Stars Are Free" sound like something along the lines of '70s Miles Davis, and "The Secret Code" features a frenetic jungle/drum'n'bass-influenced intro from Hawkins. Ultimately, Pelt's Face Forward, Jeremy is a high-minded, well-crafted mix of cutting-edge acoustic and electric jazz that gently turns your ears toward the future of jazz, while never asking you to let go of the music's past.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar