By Herb Boyd | Published June 2021
What is implied in the music is defined in words of Griot: This Is Important!, a blend of spoken-word commentary and bop-flavored originals by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt.
Evidence is best expressed on “Don’t Dog The Source,” with its double meaning of attention to the cultural roots, the straight-ahead urgency of his horn and the pounce of Allan Mednard’s drums. After a slow, dirge-like beginning on “Carry Christ Wherever You Are,” Pelt rips into a serious sermon of sound with moments where he seems to shout, “I’m all fired up!” His tonal intensity is a blistering fusillade of phrases as if in response to the late Larry Willis’ comment of what’s it like being a Black jazz musician in America: “It requires real commitment,” Willis said.
With this unique venture, Pelt reaches into another sonic sphere; you wish the interviews were longer and given a better recording. But as saxophonist JD Allen says during his commentary, “Let your music speak,” and it does here with a purpose of educating and entertaining.
“Underdog,” with Chien Chien Lu’s vibraphone and Victor Gould’s piano reflects performances of Senegalese griots and their magic on the kora, thumb piano and marimba.
Increasingly, it seems, jazz musicians are searching for new ways to expand the improvisational core of America’s original art form. Pelt reaches back and, like a true griot, finds a fresh way to tell his story.
Griot: This Is Important!: Griot: This Is Important!: Griot–Intro (words by Jeremy Pelt); Words by Paul West; Carry Christ Wherever You Are; Words by Larry Willis; Underdog; Words by JD Allen; Don’t Dog The Source; Words by Bertha Hope; A Seat At The Table; Words by Harold Mabern; Solidarity; Words by René Marie; A Beautiful (f*cking) Lie; In Spite Of … Words by Warren Smith; Words by Ambrose Akinmusire; Relevance. (43:98)
Personnel: Personnel: Jeremy Pelt, trumpet; Chien Chien Lu, vibraphone; Victor Gould, piano, Nord keyboard; Vicente Archer, bass; Allan Mednard, drums; Ismel Wignall, percussion; Brandee Younger, harp.
Ordering Info: Ordering info: jazzdepot.com