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Ken Peplowski: The Other Portrait

This is an outstanding album. The “other” in the title refers to Peplowski’s classical music chops as well as his take on Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” two areas not previously associated with him. Whether he’s playing Darius Milhaud’s “Concerto For Clarinet And Orchestra” and Witold Lutoslawski’s “Dance Preludes” with the Bulgarian Symphony or an a capella medley of “Milestones” and “Anthropology” or Billy Strayhorn and Jimmy Hamilton’s “Duet” with a jazz quartet and three trombones, he is the complete clarinetist.

He also plays a classical piece-Plamen Djurov’s “Cadenza”-on tenor saxophone, demonstrating taste, facility, and spirit equal to his clarinet playing. No doubt, there’s something symbolic in the first three letters of his name in regard to the lift he gives you. These are things already known from his career as a mainstream reedman, of course, but this album gives him exposure across the board. And he is wonderfully adept at everything. Bassist Greg Cohen’s chart for the orchestra and jazz quartet (Peplowski, Cohen, pianist Ben Aronov, and drummer Chuck Redd) on “Lonely Woman” blends classical and jazz magically. Great music, as is the entire album.

Originally Published