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Jeremy Pelt Quintet 

When: Thu., June 12, 8 & 10 p.m., Fri., June 13, 8 & 10 p.m., Sat., June 14, 8 & 10 p.m. and Sun., June 15, 4, 8 & 10 p.m. 2014
Price: $20, $35 for VIP
I still miss the acoustic quintet that trumpeter Jeremy Pelt led with saxophonist J.D. Allen, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Dwayne Burno, and drummer Gerald Cleaver—over the past decade, it was easily the best group exploring the sort of intimate dynamic established by Miles Davis’s classic quintet with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. Pelt broke up that group a couple of years ago to form the most recent of several electric bands he’s led throughout his career, and though there are smudges of fusion and smooth jazz in the new combo’s sound, I’ve come around to its merits. On a couple of the fusion-flavored songs from the recent Face Forward, Jeremy (HighNote), Brazilian singer Fabiana Masili adds a seductive chill that’s antithetical to Miles’s sound, but Pelt is still obviously repping for the Prince of Darkness with his moody, burnished lines—especially on the coolly percolating “Stars Are Free,” which gains tension from Dana Hawkins’s frenetic drumming (and drum programming). Reedist Roxy Coss makes a less forceful foil for Pelt than Allen did—she shadows his lines at least as often as she solos—but keyboardist Dave Bryant adds plenty of heat with his fiery, high-velocity Fender Rhodes. Bassist Chris Smith, who switches to electric on the more contemporary material, meshes with Hawkins to provide a consistent, powerful backbone that prevents even the most florid material from going soft. Former Chicagoan Milton Suggs sings a lovely benediction on the album’s mellow closer, “Verse.” The core quintet will accompany Pelt this week. —Peter Margasak

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