Ken Peplowski – “Maybe September”


Ken Peplowski - "Maybe September"There’s an abounding warmth and intimacy to the new recording by reed man Ken PeplowskiMaybe September is the kind of sublime outing that pulls the listener right into the studio session and forges a connection with not just the music itself, but a sense of closeness, as if it were being listened to in the moment of its creation.

Of the album’s eleven tracks, only one is a Peplowski original (the swinging “Always a Bridesmaid,” on which drummer Matt Wilson absolutely takes flight), but the quartet’s caring touch to all the compositions lends each a personal sound and allows the renditions to breathe on the quartet’s terms.  It’s a mater of embracing the original, then letting go as if it were a part of you to begin with.

Your album personnel:  Ken Peplowski (clarinet, tenor sax), Matt Wilson (drums), Martin Wind (bass), and Ken Rosenthal (piano).

The quartet’s rendition of Artie Shaw’s “Moon Ray” adopts the casual sway at the heart of the original, then kicks up the pace a bit, swinging where the original’s orchestration often soared.  Peplowski adapts another jazz orchestra piece with Ellington’s “Main Stem,” though where the original stomped exuberantly, Peplowski’s quartet keeps the chipper attitude, but moves lighter on their feet.

But it’s not all music from Jazz past.  Peplowski’s clarinet accentuates the prevailing heartbreak expressed by Paul McCartney’s lyrics on “For No One.”  And the quartet extends that heartbreak with a rendition of Nilsson’s “Without Her,” where Martin Wind’s bass provides a dark edge to Peplowski’s clarinet’s melancholy tone.  They perform an extended rendition of the Beach Boys’ “Caroline, No,” and while Peplowski’s tenor sax captures Brian Wilson’s fragile vocals, it’s pianist Ken Rosenthal’s striking piano work that resonates strongest, presenting an elegance to a moody tune.

However, it may be the quartet’s take on Francois Poulenc’s clarinet sonata that may represent the album’s shining moment.  There is an appealing formality to the abounding grace of “Romanza,” and an austere presence to its palpable warmth, all lending textures to a song that seeks to envelop completely while still maintaining a distance… something to observe and feel, simultaneously and neither at all.

A sublime outing, conveying an intimacy and warmth that is positively embraceable.

Released on Capri Records.

Jazz from NYC.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon CD | Amazon MP3