Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Ken Peplowski: Maybe September

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Ken Peplowski’s rendition of “Caroline, No” might be the most beautiful piece of recorded music of the year. Playing tenor saxophone, Peplowski gives the Brian Wilson classic a tender, respectful treatment, patiently exploring its every nuance over eight minutes. He plays the melody straight, with no extra notes, and then backs away to let his rhythm section-pianist Ted Rosenthal, bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson-interact quietly with one another. Peplowski returns with a quick, descending phrase, then offers a lot of short, clipped notes while managing to keep the volume down. He wants to lull us, not blow us away. When he returns to the theme, he delivers more drama but not more force. This one song alone is worth the price of Maybe September, Peplowski’s superb new CD.

But the entire album is a work of art. (That includes its cover picture, Edward Hopper’s 1940 painting “Gas.”) It is an album largely of heartbreakers, but that doesn’t mean all 11 songs are downers. “Moon Ray” is upbeat and happy, Duke Ellington’s “Main Stem” is a quick-paced blues, and “Always a Bridesmaid,” the one original, is fast and jerky, like a Thelonious Monk tune. Even the sadder numbers, such as the title track, are more romantic than depressing.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published