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Johnny Varro Featuring Ken Peplowski: Two Legends of Jazz

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Recensione album

Veteran pianist Johnny Varro and clarinetist Ken Peplowski are certainly two veterans of vintage early-period jazz, and join together in complete agreement as to how it should be correctly played on this set of swinging music that showcases an unconventional twist. This is not strictly a quartet date, also featuring legends in their own right like bassist Frank Tate and drummer Joe Ascione. One and/or the other rhythm mate drops out on several selections, providing an always interesting component of pacing, from duet and trio to the full quartet. Peplowski in particular is as brilliant a clarinetist as there is in modern times, his unwavering tone and wealth of ideas shining through on every delicious track. Of course, the group collectively plays famous standard American popular songs the whole world knows and recognizes. It's not an energetic set, more laid-back and cool, but there's no reservation in playing this music faithfully, with the jazz tradition firmly in mind. The CD starts with two excellent trio tracks minus bass. "My Baby Just Cares for Me" was popularized by Nina Simone, and here is where Peplowski displays his total command of this uncomplicated melody, Varro dipping into stride on his solo, while "The Touch of Your Lips" seems almost too easy in the hands of these swing masters. Tate joins in for an unusual choice, Luiz Bonfá's quintessential but lesser known bossa nova "Menina Flor," while an interesting treatment of the quickened "Out of Nowhere" is the most energized and animated tune of the date, keeping the players and listeners on their toes. "Bluesette" is a tricky one, but the band interprets this most lyrical tune very well; Tate's strummed bass buoys the hardest swinger, "Secret Love"; the group dives headfirst into the wonderful Cole Porter hot jazz classic "I Love You" with full fervor; and improvisation is key during "Blues on 57th Street," a tune — made up on the spot — named after the street where the studio is located in New York City. A low-key piano/clarinet duo on "It's Easy to Remember" and Varro's solo version of "You're a Sweetheart" displays his love of stride piano, and the influence of his main man, Teddy Wilson. Varro stated that this session was "fun, comfortable, satisfying" and you'll wholeheartedly agree that it is from start to finish, a solid effort from four masters of classic mainstream jazz. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Nato(a): 11 gennaio 1930, Brooklyn, NY

Genere: Jazz

Anni di attività: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the top swing-oriented pianists since the 1950s, Johnny Varro has long been a fixture in the trad jazz circuit even if the greater jazz world does not seem to know that he exists. He considers his influences to be Jess Stacy, Teddy Wilson, and Eddie Miller, as well as the jazz performances he witnessed as a child put on by Jack Crystal. Learning the piano while following Crystal and his friends, Varro's first professional job was with Bobby Hackett for a tour of the East Coast in 1953. In...
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