Noir Blue is a slight coloring outside the lines for clarinetist/saxophonist Ken Peplowski. His most recent recordings (with Arbors and Nagel Heyer) have focused on older swing forms and repertoire. Presently, Peplowski is playing pure jazz quartet music with pianist Shelly Berg
book, clocking in with a third of the 10 selections on the disc. The seldom played "Bourbon Street Jingling Jollies" plays like a light Latin ballad, with Peplowski's taut clarinet keeping close score. Strayhorn's "Multi-Colored Blue" faintly recalls "Our Love is Here to Stay." Peplowski's clarinet is slippery, coating the sparse accompaniment by his rhythm section. It is a sound to behold, well-balanced and wholesome. His blues sensibility is tested about half-way through the piece and Peps passes with flying colors.
The title tune is a moody, ascending affair that recalls "Mood Indigo" like the trace of cologne left by a recently departed inamorata. Berg's piano is as hauntingly pensive as Peplowski's clarinet. The two sonically fill out the song with the rhythm section. Peplowski uses some Jimmy Giuffre