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Prepare for the 'Enrapture' on New Ken Peplowski Capri Records Release [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com on Feb 25, 2016 09:28 PM EST

Benny Goodman would be 106 years old if he were alive today. We might not have "The King of Swing" but damn if we don't have Ken Peplowski, 56, to inherit that title. Cleveland resident Peplowski's new Enrapture on Capri Records proves you can swing mightily on tunes from any genre.

Pep plays clarinet oh so sweet and gets down on tenor sax too. His supporting cast-virtuosi all-includes pianist Ehud Asherie, drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Martin Wind. Plus, he's paid his dues with 50+ albums to his credit as leader or co-leader, not to mention studio work since his teens for Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme, Madonna, Woody Allen, Marianne Faithfull and, yeah, even Benny Goodman himself.

Warming up with Duke Ellington's rarely recorded "The Flaming Sword" done calypso style, the first curve ball comes with the peaceful easy feeling of "Oh, My Love" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono as a clarinet/bass duet. Anthony Newley might have co-written "Cheer Up, Charlie" for the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory but it sounds right at home here next to Noel Coward's "I'll Follow My Secret Heart" waltz. Herbie Nichols was the hard-bopping piano player who wrote but never recorded the title track. Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine wrote "Twelve" based on Cole Porter's "Easy To Love." Barry Manilow co-wrote "When October Goes" as a pop song.

Get the picture?

Still, with all of the creative genre-plundering herein, the highlight has to be Pep's take on the soundtrack of Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film classic Vertigo, for it is here that the clarinet itself is the vessel of intrigue. "Vertigo Scene D'Amour," part of Bernard Herrmann's film score, is almost seven minutes of swinging exoticism. And what better way to end things than on an even longer (7:37) Fats Waller "Willow Tree" where everyone in the quartet gets to shine?

Sure, bebop's hipper than swing, but you will, indeed, be totally enraptured by Ken Peplowski's cross-genre pollination. He's always been like that. (Check out the clip from 1989 where he's sandwiched between two larger-than-life musical characters in Dr. John and Leon Redbone.)

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TagsKen Peplowski, REVIEW, Capri Records, Benny Goodman