Ken Peplowski: Noir Blue (2010)
If all this seems contrary to a musician schooled on the waxed floors of swing, it bears mention that the Peplowski eschews unnecessary chatter and hollow garrulousness for meaningful tributaries of sound that always have a harmonic confluence with the poetry of melody and utterly surprising rhythm . He is a not-so-distant disciple of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, of Hoagy Carmichael and therefore Bix Beiderbecke. Not in emulating their music, but certainly in his understanding of the alchemy of sound that made them special beacons that called across the ocean of music. This is why he can hear and reveal in genteel manner a bolero once hidden in "Bourbon Street Jingling Jollies." Or where he might skip and swing with eloquent grace (including a quick wink at Charlie Parker somewhere in the middle chorus) as he romps through the "Riverboat Shuffle," where others might end up with a wild and loud rant.
On Noir Blue, which might well be something to savor for a considerable length of time, the clarinetist and saxophonist finds that he is closer to the deep azure of the Duke that otherwise imagined. Not that anyone is complaining. Ray Noble "Love Locked Out" and Strayhorn's "Multi-Colored Blue" come in complimentary shades of indigo, the latter an elemental lament with a deeply cathartic wail in its tail. "Noir Blue" is equally moving and inhabits the same realm and yet gives credence to the ancient belief that the blues is nothing but deep sorrow turning into joyand at Peplowski's hand, seemingly turning on a dime if that. Such is his mastery of emotion and his ability to curve the air with feeling.
Peplowski is not alone in this wonderful adventure. Surrounding himself with a group of musicians who subscribe the identical point of view, he forges an alliance that can only further his joyous cause. Pianist Shelly Berg, bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Joe LaBarbera are old souls too. They dive into the same well of emotions with Peplowski, plunging into sorrowing hues and bursting out; soaring into the bubbling spray of elation with him. Together they make the experience of Noir Blue something truly unforgettable.
Track Listing: The Best Thing For You; Home With You; Bourbon Street Jingling Jollies; Riverboat Shuffle; Love Locked Out; If Not For You; Multi Colored Blue; Noir Blue; Nobody Else But Me; Little Dogs.
Personnel: Ken Peplowski: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Shelley Berg: piano; Jay Leonhart: bass; Joe La Barbera: drums.
Record Label: Capri Records