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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ken Peplowski: Maybe September

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In a world where celebrities are anointed and dismissed by the shifting whims of the Twitterverse, it's easy to overlook the steady fires that keep the old traditions burning. The retro cover of Maybe September instantly signals that, once again, the ever-superb reedist Ken Peplowski, aided by the invaluable Capri Record label, will be honoring and extending these traditions. But it's not just a matter of blowing the dust off forgotten antiques: he makes splendid and tasteful music out of any material, whatever its original era and style. The result is a record that comfortably embraces a serene ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Four Artists Of The Jazz Clarinet Renaissance

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Since the jazz clarinet never really died, renaissance--or rebirth--may not be the term that best describes what's happening to the instrument in the twenty-first century jazz universe; it is, however, a pretty good one word synopsis. The licorice stick was there at or near the start, tooting along next to the trumpet and trombone in early twentieth century New Orleans front lines, and its popularity carried over into the swing era, as clarinetists Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw brought the instrument into many a home via their respective recordings and radio broadcasts. Things were looking up for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dick Hyman & Ken Peplowski: ...Live At The Kitano

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If musical knowledge and taste were currency, pianist Dick Hyman and clarinetist Ken Peplowski would be two of the wealthiest men around. Hyman, an octogenarian legend with killer technique and near-unparalleled knowledge about virtually every style of jazz, and Peplowski, the witty woodwind wonder who stands tall as one of the clarinet kingpins on the scene today, make for a perfect match. Both men have deep respect for the tradition(s) of this music, but neither one looks at jazz as a museum piece; they both recognize that it's a living and breathing art form that's open to endless interpretation and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ken Peplowski: In Search Of ...

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The splenetic and hard-nosed clarinetist/bandleader Benny Goodman admired tenor saxophonist Ken Peplowski enough to hire the younger musician on for his last performing band, during the mid-1980s. But the Cleveland, Ohio-born and bred Peplowski's main ax was, in fact, the clarinet. He spent a good part of his early career playing in Polish polka bands, and hiring on to play whatever other music jobs that were available. He eventually joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, under the baton of Buddy Morrow, and studied with saxophonist Sonny Stitt, before taking the Goodman job, going on to team with labels including Concord, Nagel-Heyer ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ken Peplowski: In Search Of ...

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Ken Peplowski is a clarinet virtuoso, with a tone of such warmth and beauty that it takes only a few bars to create a feel-good atmosphere, either in performance or, as he ably demonstrates on In Search Of ..., in the studio. Although Peplowski has over 20 albums to his name as leader, he's still experimenting, still trying out new ideas--still, presumably, in search of something. The first nine tunes are recordings from a February 2010 quartet session. Peplowski makes some terrific choices for this set, from Robert Wells and Jack Segal's beautiful ballad “When Joanna Loved ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Ken Peplowski/Bucky Pizzarelli Quintet at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola

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Ken Peplowski/Bucky Pizzarelli QuintetDizzy's Club Coca-ColaNew York, NYNovember 23, 2010 When the dust has settled on Halloween, the leaves have all fallen off of the trees and the temperature takes a dip, it's clear that Thanksgiving is only a short while away. At Thanksgiving, people come together with family, reunite with old friends and take pause to give thanks for all that we have. Jazz fans in New York go through the same process and an appreciative audience was on hand at Dizzy's to give thanks for the music of reedman Ken Peplowski and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ken Peplowski: Noir Blue

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In his liner notes, saxophonist/clarinetist Ken Peplowski reveals that after hitting fifty, he had no desire to make albums that are going through the motions of record company requirements. Not that such bodies are lately in a position to demand anything. He now intends to make recordings when the inspiration is strong and when the circumstances align in an encouraging fashion. A major part of this disc's genesis seems to be the rapport that Peplowski shares with pianist Shelly Berg. Also on hand are Jay Leonhart (bass) and Joe La Barbera (drums), both of whom navigate the common ground with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ken Peplowski: Noir Blue

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Ken Peplowski has much to say; not in the sense that he jabbers incessantly, as many men with horns (and embouchures for hire) sometimes do. However, in erudite and leaping ululations, and in warm, wafting glissandos he sings of the gaiety and sadness of life. This he does through clarinet or tenor saxophone, depending on the echo and longevity he wishes his harmonic monologues to have. An old soul, with a spectacular perspective on the past, Peplowski lives in a place called the “near future"; just close enough for him to cast shy, but frequent glances into the ever-present. His ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ken Peplowski: Noir Blue

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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, bassist Jay Leonhart, and drummer Joe La Barbera. The song choice is anything but standard, thought it never ventures too far from Peplowski's comfort zone.

Noir Blue is heavy on the Ellington/Strayhorn 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, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ken Peplowski / Jesper Thilo: Happy Together - Live At Birdland Volume One

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Ken Peplowski and Jesper Thilo have much more in common than the solid expertise of each on both tenor saxophone and clarinet as demonstrated here. The two effortlessly and authentically bring the Swing Era to vibrant life anew. With “Peps," who began his professional career with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, one has only to hear the first few notes from his clarinet on “I Want to Be Happy" to appreciate how great an influence Benny Goodman had on him. Thilo's thrilling trilling, as he races up and down the scales on “The World is Waiting for the Sunrise," is more ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ken Peplowski Gypsy Jazz Band: Gypsy Lamento

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This is a gypsy combo of the Django Reinhardt persuasion, rather than being fully-crazed wedding party cacophony. In fact, reedman Ken Peplowski makes matters even more specialized by concentrating on a preponderance of slow plodders rather than the frenetic hurtling that many gypsy jazz guitar outfits now prefer. The album's cover is slightly strange. Two pseudo-brides in billowing white silk cavort with a pair of goats. Is this what gypsy life entails? Half of the compositions are written by the old Belgian guitar master Reinhardt, with Peplowski flanked by guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and Howard Alden, which is ...

INTERVIEWS

Ken Peplowski: Clarinet Conqueror

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Ken Peplowski has been a busy player on the jazz scene since joining the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (directed by Buddy Morrow) in 1978. A gifted clarinetist and tenor saxophonist, he met Sonny Stitt while still with the Dorsey band, ended up studying sax with him and landed a dream job playing in Benny Goodman's final orchestra in the mid '80s until the jazz legend's death in 1986.

Before the decade was over, Peplowski was one of many young lions signed to Concord Records, making numerous CDs as both a leader and sideman for the label between 1987-98.

ARTIST PROFILES

Ken Peplowski: Good Times On the Road For Reed Virtuoso

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This is the best of times for jazz musician Ken Peplowski, renowned clarinet and tenor saxophonist. So good, in fact it was difficult for him to find time to talk by phone in June.

Having just returned from playing dates in Italy, he was in the midst of performing in New York's JVC Jazz Festival and cutting a CD with the Bill Charlap Trio. “It never rains but it pours, but it is great to be busy," he says.

Indeed, and there is no respite in sight. He will soon be on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Howard Alden / Ken Peplowski: Pow-Wow

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Whether you were fortunate enough or not to have caught Howard Alden and Ken Peplowski's 2007 reunion art New York's Bargemusic, Pow-Wow will do very nicely to dig these longtime musical good companions. Much of the Barge evening drew upon Pow-Wow, offering a perfect, quietly spectacular skyline setting for these two, both who eschew pyrotechnics. Their playing is exciting enough in its simplicity. Hearing their variety, range and richness can make it seem like listening to more than just two players. The title track (guitarist Joe Puma's tune, based on the changes of Ray Noble's “Cherokee ) ...



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