Straight-ahead clarinet-lead quartet...
One of the finest clarinetists to emerge in since the 1990s, Ken Peplowski has not so much redefined the jazz clarinet as rejuvenate it in the mainstream. The majority of his recent recordings have focused on Benny Goodman and swing-era music (hear last Swing of the Century , Tribute to Benny Goodman Volumes 1 & 2 on Nagel Heyer). He has taken a turn into the more modern sounds, performing with Randy Sandke and his Inside Out Jazz Collective .
On Lost in the Stars, Peplowski shows up in a simple quartet setting for a studio recital of standards and originals composed by his pianist, Ben Aronov and bassist Greg Cohen. He divides his time almost equally between clarinet and tenor saxophone, producing a very well rounded collection of mainstream jazz. He is even able to breath some life into the very tired "My Ship." Enough life, anyway, to make me want to listen to it over and over again. Peplowski surprises with the inclusion of a little-known Billy Strayhorn piece, "Ballad Of Very Tired And Very Sad Lotus Eaters." This has the unmistakable mark of Ellington/Strayhorn. It is beautiful. Morton Gould’s "Piece #8 From "Benny’s Gig"" is a swinging plus to the recording, ending it on an upbeat and creative note.
Ken Peplowski is never going to get too far out there and that is okay. Music this refined is a welcome addition to the catalog of any jazz lover.