Ken Peplowski: Grenadilla
Despite the unexpected company, this disc is as genially pleasant as all Pep recordings. "Benny's Pennies" is a bright takeoff of Tristano's "Lennie's Pennies"; "Voce e eu" is a trip to bossaville. "Copi" introduces Ehrlich, playing as lyrically as...Ken Peplowski. He intertwines a few lines with the boss effectively, without a trace of dissonance. (Of course, Ehrlich plays like this often, just not always. Compare this with his work on standards in Braxton's "Piano Quartet," by turns sweetly lyrical and titanically hell-raising.)
"'Bye" is a quirky theme from Aronov that gives Peplowski plenty of room. "The Reconsidered Blues" is achingly melancholy. "Variations" sounds like Peplowski is improvising brightly over something by Webern. Full of angular modernist harmonies, this fascinating track makes one wish Peplowski had recorded a whole disc with Ehrlich, Parran, and Robinson. I don't know what Peplowski fans will make of it, but it is sweet enough, and certainly shows the leader's variegated abilities.
But all too quickly it is over. "The Soul in the Wood" is indeed soulful; "Palisades" is more of Ken's patented retro swing; "Indian Summer" is a playful romp with Alden; "Farewell Blues" is too brisk to get sentimental, and approaches outright Jelly Roll-ism; and "Cry Me A River" culminates another solid Peplowski date, leaving us to wonder if he'll venture even farther into the outer reaches next time.
Record Label: Concord Music Group