United States jazz musician Jeremy Pelt on Eric Garner’s death


This music video says about itself:

1 November 2012

Jeremy Pelt Quintet in “We’ll Be Together Again” (Fischer-Laine), Live al Duc des Lombards – Paris

Jeremy Pelt trumpet, Roxy Coss sax, David Bryant piano, Dwayne Burno bass, Jonathan Barber drums.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Art, protest and restless humanity, never quelled

Tuesday 21st July 2015

Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt echoes a nation’s grief as US police continue to target, hurt and kill innocent black men, writes CHRIS SEARLE

Tales, Musings and Other Reveries
(High Note HCD 7270)
Jeremy Pelt

IT WAS July 17 2014 on a busy shopping street in Staten Island, New York City. A 43-year-old African-American ex-horticulturalist from the New York Parks and Recreation Department, Eric Garner, was confronted by some police officers, accused of selling “loosies” — single cigarettes from unlicensed and untaxed packs.

An argument ensued, with an officer — one Daniel Pantaleo — putting Garner into a 15-second chokehold and forcing him face down onto the pavement.

Garner spluttered: “I can’t breathe!” 11 times while his head was held down. An ambulance was called, and by the time it arrived at the hospital an hour later, Garner was dead.

After a grand jury decided not to charge Pantaleo for murder, there were nationwide protests and demonstrations at yet another fatal police attack on an African-American, and the mass indignation spread into popular culture too. No more efficaciously than in the new album by the southern Californian-born trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, Tales, Musings and Other Reveries.

In his sleeve notes, Pelt remembers “witnessing Los Angeles go up in flames” after the broadcasting of footage showing police beating black taxi driver Rodney King following a high-speed car chase though the city’s streets in 1991, and the subsequent acquittal of the police officers.

In the track Ruminations on Eric Garner, the twin brutalities against King and Garner are brought together in Pelt’s powerful hornplay and the two sets of pulsating drums of Virginian Billy Drummind and Victor Lewis of Omaha, Nebraska.

Pianist Simona Premazzi and bassist Ben Allison are there in the introduction and fading finale, but all the rest is Pelt, Drummond and Lewis creating an incensed colloquy of brass, skin and cymbal, with the trumpeter’s high-pitched runs and soaring, defiant notes calling out like a clamour for justice, and the two drummers pitched in the earth of wronged and savaged humanity.

I Only Miss Her When I Think of Her, which follows, is very different, with Pelt’s beautifully bent notes and burnished tone singing of love and tenderness. Nephthys is songlike and full of rapture, with the drums and Allison’s throbbing bass dancing below Pelt’s high horn trajectory. Premazzi seems to love the two drummers beside her too, and her keys jump off their sound.

Pelt writes that the blues piece The Old Soul of the Modern Day Wayfarer is about him and “the soujourner in myself” as if the nomadic musical life and the perennial touring has in some way defined his sound. His note-perfect delivery brings into strange unity the form of Art Farmer and the fierce passion of Freddie Hubbard: quite a fusion of excellence and tradition.

The hard bop classic Glass Bead Games, written by the tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, is transformed into a brass rhapsody by Pelt, flying above Lewis’s and Drummond’s pounding drums. Premazzi’s solo enriches the artistry before the drummers have their own palaver, loving their togetherness, prefacing Pelt’s final flourish as a salute to their union. Then there is Vonetta, written by another great tenorist, the survivor Wayne Shorter, for the 1967 Miles Davis album The Sorcerer. Pelt’s long, anguished notes reveal an unexpected tenderness in the heart of enchantment.

Pelt’s own Harlem Thoroughfare is a quasi-Ellingtonian title for another side of New York, and its village of black achievement. Premazzi’s solo is racked with complexities and Pelt is the griot and historian of his own dwelling place.

Pelt blows with a tender lucidity and Allison’s bass palpitates all through Everything You Can Imagine is Real, a dictum attributed to Picasso, whose Guernica is close to Pelt’s home, there in the New York Museum of Modern Art. The man who painted that would have understood Pelt’s artistry and his Ruminations on Eric Garner, that’s for sure. They come from the same soul of art, protest and restless humanity, never to be quelled or silenced.

5 thoughts on “United States jazz musician Jeremy Pelt on Eric Garner’s death

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