143

Ken Peplowski: Grenadilla

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
Here clarinetist extraordinaire Ken Peplowski takes on some challenges: alongside his sidemen pianist Ben Aronov, bassist Greg Cohen, and drummer Chuck Redd, are guests Howard Alden on acoustic and electric guitars (on five tracks), Marty Ehrlich on clarinet and bass clarinet (four tracks), Kenny Davern on clarinet ("Farewell Blues"), and Scott Robinson on alto clarinet and J. D. Parran on contrabass clarinet ("Variations"). Ehrlich and Parran have played in recent years with Anthony Braxton, and are not quite the guests one might expect Ken Peplowski to invite to his recording date. But – here they are.

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.


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Sketches on the Radio" CD/LP/Track Review Sketches on the Radio
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 14, 2016
Read "Flow" CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2016
Read "Out & About" CD/LP/Track Review Out & About
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Akustik InventYours" CD/LP/Track Review Akustik InventYours
by Tyran Grillo
Published: May 3, 2016
Read "Abbey Road Sessions, Vol 1" CD/LP/Track Review Abbey Road Sessions, Vol 1
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "The Way You Look Tonight" CD/LP/Track Review The Way You Look Tonight
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 10, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!