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Ken Peplowski Quartet: Lost in the Stars

Some recordings are designed simply to give pleasure with no concern for setting the world on fire. Ken Peplowski’s Lost in the Stars appears to be one of them. Four excellent musicians-the leader on clarinet and tenor, Ben Aronov on piano, Greg Cohen on bass and Lewis Nash on drums-perform a collection of standards and originals in a straightforward manner that reveals their obvious fondness for the material as well as their desire to convey its essence to the listener.

Peplowski’s gorgeous rendition of a slow “When You Wish Upon a Star,” paired with Aronov’s rubato on “Lost in the Stars,” sticks almost exclusively to the melody. And Morton Gould’s two-minute “Piece #8”, from the series “Benny’s Gig,” is performed essentially as composed. In some other instances, the leader decorates the ballads with scales and runs or uses them as vehicles for full-blown improvisations. But the album also offers a generous helping of traditional swingers. Peplowski plays boppish clarinet on “If This Isn’t Love” and switches to tenor for a Zoot Sims/Al Cohn (with a touch of Ben Webster) approach to “Why Do I Love You” and several others, including a blazing trio outing on the incongrously named “Sleep.” Aronov and Cohen display consummate professionalism throughout and the explosive Nash demonstrates once again why his services are in such great demand.

Originally Published