Some of the material heard on Shock Value had been in the Jeremy Pelt live catalog years before it were released on this album, while two of the songs ("Scorpio" and "Suspicion") were performed on his previous album, Identity. The former album was Pelt's first studio foray into electric jazz, having stayed straight acoustic on his first three albums. Shock Value, performed with his latest band, Wired, dives deeper into today's version of jazz fusion, although the end product bears a sound that fraternizes more closely with early-'70s Miles Davis than, say, Nicholas Payton's Sonic Trance. The title is a phrase for the reaction (shock) that Pelt said he would get from many audiences upon playing this wired, electronic jazz. In a cover-story article in Down Beat prior to the album's release, Pelt said much of his material met puzzled and sometimes put off audiences. Despite, perhaps, a reticence on the part of audiences to follow suit, Shock Value is an album released in a period where many of Pelt's peers and some of his elders are finally tussling themselves free of some of the more staid jazz sounds and beginning to experiment again. Some of those products, such as Payton's Sonic Trance, Marcus Strickland's Open Reel Deck, and Wallace Roney's Mystikal were new-sounding products, fresh approaches. Here, Pelt more reinterprets and channels the vibe and overall essence of '70s-era efforts. Whether it's Frank LoCrasto finding a very Keith Jarrett-like nook on his Hammond and Fender Rhodes, or Pelt's heavy (and expert) use of his rigged horn in the Miles-ian sometimes-sparse/sometimes-torrid phrasing, or even young drummer Dana Hawkins who seems to alternate between Jack DeJohnette and Al Foster-ish kicking; much of this music has a familiar feel to it. This is not a bad thing -- by any stretch -- although it also isn't a new or unique thing. This is somewhat of a "shock," given that Pelt has quickly become the trumpet player of his generation during this decade expressly because of his unique voice on his horn and his heavy compositions as a writer. He ultimately maintains that designation with interesting offerings such as the folksy "Case," featuring singer Becca Stevens. And "Suspicion," a tune Pelt had been performing since 2005, twists and turns and broods with his own stamp, while "Beyond," yet again, shows Pelt's ability to write subtle and tranquilizing ballads on par with the prettiest of tunes. But it's the two nastier pieces ("Circular" and "Scorpio") -- tunes that could have been new-generation statements -- that sound as if Pelt is still studying as opposed to creating. For a lesser musician this is fine, for the potentially great, such as Pelt, this is somewhat of a tease or, at the very least, simply an appetizer for what he undoubtedly has in store for listeners as his career and music forge ahead.
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AllMusic Review by Vincent Thomas