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Ken Peplowski: Easy to Remember

Ken Peplowski is yet another clarinetist with some stylistic kinship to the swing era, but on tenor he can sound like a cousin to Zoot Sims. On his Easy to Remember (Nagel-Heyer), Peplowski surrounds himself with mainstream modern colleagues who would fit in better with Sims and his successors than with, say, the earlier Ben Webster. Joe Cohn (son of Al) on guitar, Ted Rosenthal on piano, Joe Fitzgerald on bass and Jeff Brillinger on drums provide a compatible setting for Peplowski’s own consummate improvisations on either horn. A highlight is their performance of Al Cohn’s “High on You,” where the three melody instruments (with Peplowski on tenor) race flawlessly and breathtakingly through Al’s interesting chord changes. By contrast, Peplowski stays close to the melody on the ballad “With Every Breath I Take,” where he displays a beautiful clarinet tone and a warm delivery. And Ellington’s “Single Petal of a Rose” is treated as a brief, cadenzalike clarinet solo. Bobby Short and Kim Liggett appear successfully as guest vocalists on “It’s Easy to Remember” and Paul McCartney’s “Junk,” respectively.

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