Ken Peplowski: Easy to Remember (2004)
Ken Peplowski is perhaps the best of an albeit too short list of baby-boomer swing clarinetists. On Easy to Remember he adeptly doubles on tenor and fronts a quintet of four like-minded musicians who similarly value musicianship and melody. Pianist Ted Rosenthal and guitarist Joe Cohn share frontline duties, while bassist Joe Fitzgerald and drummer Jeff Brillinger provide a steady rhythmic accompaniment to the varied agenda.
Cabaret vocal king Bobby Short displays his mastery of diction and time on the title cut and a relatively unknown vocalist, Kim Liggett, pensively turns pop into jazz on a wonderful rendition of Paul McCartney's "Junk." Rosenthal, who continues to impress on solo and group projects as a preeminent mainstream pianist, displays a precise yet expressive touch on his up-tempo original, "Good Old Days." Cohn has also quietly become a superb master of tone, speed and articulation that he ably evidences on a burning rendition of dad Al's "High on You."
But this is of course a Peplowski CD, and he is one of the few clarinetists of his generation who can beautifully meld classical music into jazz. He does so on a solo rendition of Ellington's elegant "Single Petal of a Rose" and the intriguing intro to Cole Porter's "Everything I Love." The latter then gently swings into an invitingly warm tonal embrace that also characterizes the lovely Strayhorn ballad "Love Came," the standard "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," and Jobim's "Louisa."
With the boundaries of jazz stretched past the breaking point and hybrid sessions becoming the norm, it can be easy to forget the attraction of a mainstream date where accomplished players create without losing sight of the melody. Ken Peplowski's latest makes the warm-all-over feeling that you can get from just such a program Easy to Remember.
Track Listing: 1. It's Easy To Remember; 2. Restless; 3. Copi; 4. With Every Breath I Take; 5. Louisa; 6. Everything I Love; 7. I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face; 8. Single Petal Of A Rose; 9. Love Came; 10. Good Old Days; 11. Junk; 12. Smoke Rings; 13. High On You (bonus track).
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).