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Album Review

Ken Peplowski is one of the most accomplished musicians in the second half-century of jazz. His lithe clarinet or literate tenor saxophone playing earmarks a curiosity for many facets within mainstream jazz that he employs. On Noir Blue — his first CD for the Capri label — Peplowski explores that variety in a swinging framework with original material, standards, and interpretations of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's music. With the exceptional pianist Shelly Berg, bassist Jay Leonhart, and drummer Joe La Barbera, the reedman can scarcely do anything wrong in playing enjoyable, populist jazz that is as consistent as anyone could wish for. The title selection is an obscure but beautiful Strayhorn ballad that Peplowski plays expertly on clarinet, while the light Latin Berg composition "Home with You" is warm and fuzzy as can be. A contemporary beat à la Ahmad Jamal is employed on Ellington's lesser-known "Bourbon Street Jingling Jollies," with "The Best Thing for You" done in a brisk bop. Reminiscent of Lester Young, Peplowski's tenor sax is in vintage form for the upbeat swinger penned by La Barbera "If Not For You," and pays homage to Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman, inspired in angular and quirky tones during Peplowski's original "Little Dogs." Of many excellent albums he has produced in his three-decade career, this is one of the most complete and satisfying efforts the top-drawer figure has ever produced, and deserves a most high recommendation. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews


Just amazing


Ken Peplowski is a wonderful sax player, but I think he is the greatest living clarinet player, and you can here it on this very special CD. The other folks on this CD are great as well. This is beautiful.


Born: May 23, 1959 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s

One of the top clarinetists of the 1990s and a very talented tenor player, Ken Peplowski has helped keep the tradition of small-group swing (and occasionally Dixieland) alive. He made his professional debut at ten and played locally in Cleveland. After spending 1978-1980 touring with the Tommy Dorsey ghost orchestra (directed by Buddy Morrow), Peplowski settled in New York, freelanced in a variety of settings, and played with Benny Goodman. By 1987, he was a Concord artist and has since recorded...
Full Bio
Noir Blue, Ken Peplowski
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  • $9.90
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Rock
  • Released: Mar 16, 2010

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