IN Search of...
Ken Peplowski

Review of Ken Peplowski's new album In Search of...

Reed instrumentalists Ken Peplowski creates an eclectic world of swing-inspired motifs, entrancing soundscapes, soft roasted blues, and balladry sweeps on his new CD, In Search of… from Capri Records. This is his second effort as a bandleader following his previous Capri Records release Noir Blue. The album features compositions recorded from two different sessions and with two different sets of musicians.

The first nine tracks were recorded on February 21, 2010 with Peplowski at the helm and accompanied by pianist Shelley Berg, bassist Tom Kennedy, and drummer Jeff Hamilton. These tracks flow naturally and show signs of Peplowski’s predecessors some of whom he has been fortunate enough to play with including Mel Torme, Benny Goodman, and Rosemary Clooney.

The brisk twirls of Peplowski’s clarinet are garnished in sprinting drum rolls along “Falsa Baiana”, while the clarinet’s sleek strolls across “When Joanna Loved Me” are nestled in Berg’s tranquilizing piano melody. The rhythmic interpoles made along “The Thespian” generate stimulating moments between the piano, bass, and drums, and morph into a soft bluesy swing pulse through “Love’s Disguise”.

The latter half of the album, tracks 10-12, was recorded on April 2, 2017 and stylized with Greg Cohen on bass, Joe Ascione on percussion and drums, and Chuck Redd on vibraphones. The cabaret-toned ambience of “No Regrets” is wreathe in a ring of puffing twitters from the clarinet, which slide into ascending phrases along “Within You and Without You” as the jiggling notes of the vibes produce an ethereal sheath. The upbeat stride of “Rum and Coco Cola” is strapped to buoyant percussions and a springy delivery from Peplowski’s clarinet which is partial to embracing a polka libretto.

Though Peplowski plays with two entirely different sets of musicians, the album has a cohesive seal that allows the tracks to move seamlessly. It’s a testament to Peplowski’s ability to be flexible and effective in any environment that he is thrown into, and proudly, his clarinet shines while encouraging his band to join him in the spotlight.

Ken Peplowski - clarinet, Shelley Berg - piano, Tom Kennedy - bass, Jeff Hamilton - drums, Greg Cohen - bass, Joe Ascione - percussion and drums, and Chuck Redd - vibraphones

The Thespian, Lover’s Disguise, When Joanna Loved Me, Falsa Baiana, A Ship Without A Sail, With Every Breath I Take, In Flower, Peps, This Nearly Was Mine, No Regres, Within You And Without You, Run and Coco Cola

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Susan Frances