The word "sublime" comes to mind when listening to the new recording by Ken Peplowski. One of today's premier clarinetists, the sound that he creates from his woodwind instrument is simply a pleasant and joyful experience. His new release Easy To Remember finds the clarinetist (and saxophonist) in a quintet setting featuring selections with a relaxed feel, mixing ballads and slightly upbeat tempos. Two vocal selections are included in the title section sung by renowned singer Bobby Short and a moving rendition of Paul McCartney's "Junk" sung by jazz vocalist Kim Liggett.
The music echoes the smoothness of Dexter Gordon, Benny Goodman, and Charlie Parker, with the right touch of swing and balladry. In addition to his clarinet skills, Peplowski is also a fine tenor saxophonist, and many of the selections are noteworthy for his ability to provide interesting and deep solo articulation.
Quiet and poignant moments are clearly at the heart of the recording. On the title selection the music nicely accompanies Bobby Short's style with a warm nostalgic feeling. The tonal beauty of the clarinet is realized on Jobim's "Louisa" and particularly on Cole Porter's "Everything I Love" with its warm, clean, and pronounced lines. He plays the instrument with sheer artistry as the band carries the melody along with grace and poise. "Love Came" is filled with romanticism and highlights some beautiful clarinet and guitar interaction.
Selections such as the catchy "Good Old Days" contain well-rounded solos from the piano, clarinet, guitar, and drums, as the proficient rhythm section keeps things swinging nicely. The quintet also brings just the right amount of heat on the bonus track "High On You" with Peplowski shining bright on tenor saxophone.
With Peplowski's impeccable woodwind voice, an impressive band, and just the right mood, the stage is set for music that is classy, elegant, and appropriately titled Easy To Remember.
Personnel: Ken Peplowski - clarinet, tenor sax; Joe Cohn- guitar; Ted Rosenthal - pianist;
Joe Fitzgerald - bassist; Jeff Brillinger - drummer;
Bobby Short - vocals (track 1); Kim Liggett- vocals(track 11)