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 straight-tahead and euphoric Swing Era jazz. This number is also an opportunity for some friendly dueling of clarinets that understandably evokes excited roars from the audience on this live set.
Don't misunderstand. This is no mere nostalgic or imitative nod to a bygone era. On the '40s classic, "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," Peplowski weaves an alluring spell that is as intricate as it is delicately dreamy. On this tune and throughout the set, Thilo Wagner's piano offers accompaniment that is subtle and quiet so that at times it almost seems on the verge of disappearing. Yet somehow it doesn't and the effect is to lend a constant underpinning of melodic strength.
Everyone gets time to swing easy on the wrap-up number, an extended take on Edison/Hendricks' "Centerpiece." Both Peplowski and Thilo give out with unhurried tenor sax sweetness on this one, Thilo especially, with a warmth that for this listener recalled shades of the great Ben Webster.
Hey fellas, bring on Volume Two!
Vignette; I Want to Be Happy; Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You; The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; In Your Own Sweet Way; Centerpiece.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.