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Ken Peplowski

One of jazz’s top clarinetists of the past 20 years and an equally skilled tenor-saxophonist, Ken Peplowski has been an important force in keeping small group swing alive and vital. Born in 1959 in Cleveland, Ohio, Peplowski played in public for the first time when he was still in elementary school. He and his brother, trumpeter Ted Peplowski, performed at many Polish dances and weddings on weekends through high school. He also played jazz with his school stage bands, taught at the local music store, and performed at local engagements as a teenager. After attending college for a year, Peplowski was heard by Buddy Morrow, playing with his quartet at a jazz festival in Cleveland and was hired for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Peplowski played clarinet solos and lead alto with the big band.

He had an opportunity to study with Sonny Stitt and in 1980 settled in New York. Peplowski played in a wide variety of settings and in 1984 became the tenor-saxophonist in Benny Goodman’s final band. Peplowski became famous in the jazz world after he signed with the Concord label, recording a dozen excellent swing CDs. He has since led dates for Nagel Heyer and the Japanese Venus label. Peplowski has recorded with such major names as Mel Tormé, Charlie Byrd, George Shearing, Ruby Braff, Dan Barrett, the Loren Schoenberg Big Band, Susannah McCorkle, Dave Frishberg, Jim Cullum, Daryl Sherman, Marty Grosz, Rosemary Clooney, James Moody, Houston Person, Steve Allen, Scott Hamilton, Randy Sandke, Dick Hyman, Kenny Davern and Howard Alden. Ken Peplowski is a regular at classic jazz festivals and jazz parties, and ranks near the top of his field.