Ken Peplowski: Enrapture
Ken Peplowski on Clarinet and Tenor Saxophone
Ehud Asherie on Piano
Martin Wind on Bass
Matt Wilson on Drums and Percussion
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 22, 2016
This CD is an exceptional collection of ten musical works, by an eclectic array of composers, such as Bernard Herrmann (“Vertigo Scene d’Amour” and “Madeleine” from “Vertigo”), Herbie Nichols (title tune), Noël Coward (“I’ll Follow My Secret Heart”), and Harry Warren/Leo McCarey/Harold Adamson (“An Affair to Remember”). Ken Peplowski and members of his album’s band have been favorably reviewed on these pages. In fact, this quartet is among the crème de le crème of artists on clarinet/tenor, piano, bass, and percussion. Each track is unique, such as an arrangement of a film score, a rare Ellington work, or a Coward waltz. And each track provides opportunities for solo improvisation, to enhance the fascination with each tune and arrangement. Peplowski is as accomplished on tenor sax as he is on clarinet, a versatile musician and innovative bandleader. It was difficult to choose four notable tracks, so I went with those that drew me in the most, at the moment of this review. Enrapture is a must-have album for those who yearn for outstanding arrangements and musicianship, in a diverse selection of jazz, pop, and filmatic tunes.
#3 – Oh, My Love – Composed by John Lennon/Yoko Ono. This eloquent, melodic duet for Martin Wind’s bass and Peplowski’s clarinet engages the listener in its resonance and emotionality. The clarinet sings throughout the brief track, with a wistful, yearning theme. The bass expressively opens and closes the track in deep earthiness. But what’s especially stunning is the clarinet’s seamless purity, with a hint of exotic tones.
#7 – Twelve – Composed by Peter Erskine. This racing, energized track is a dizzy take on Cole Porter’s “Easy to Love”, with Peplowski on a breathy, staccato tenor sax. Ehud Asherie, on piano, keeps up with the propulsive sax theme, embellishing it with harmonies amidst the brassy dissonance. Matt Wilson, on drums, and Martin Wind, on bass, mark the highly charged tempo with syncopated, urban rhythm.
#9 – When October Goes – Composed by Barry Manilow/Johnny Mercer. Again, like the third track, Peplowski plays solo throughout, this time on tenor sax. The melodic theme is languorous and longing, with the piano providing contrasting chords and phrases, expanding the sound to a lush, luminous aura. The bass infuses earthy, melancholy support, and drum brushes, if at all, exist in whisper mode.
#10 – Willow Tree – Composed by Thomas “Fats” Waller/Andy Razaf. Peplowski’s extraordinary talent is showcased here in all its Sunday finery, as we’re transported to the French Quarter, listening to the most enchanting clarinet I’ve heard in quite some time, and that may be since I last heard Ken Peplowski. Asherie’s piano trills, sounding like summer wind chimes, open and close this extra-long track, and Wind’s bass is sultry and sinewy, bluesy and baritone. Wilson is featured late in this piece on a drum-bass duet, an engaging, rhythm-filled interlude. But, it’s Ken Peplowski’s charismatic clarinet, winding and warbling, soaring and singing, that makes this album a must-have for aficionados of today’s top jazz talent.