Ken Peplowski

It's a Lonesome Old Town

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Ken Peplowski has long been open to playing in more modern idioms of jazz while not losing his facilities or interest in the older styles. On this CD, Peplowski -- doubling as usual on clarinet and tenor -- is joined by guitarist Alden, pianist Allen Farnham, bassist Greg Cohen and the late drummer Alan Dawson. In addition, all but the final two of the dozen selections add either guitarist Charlie Byrd (who is on five songs), trumpeter Tom Harrell or pianist Marian McPartland (the latter two, on three songs apiece, both appear on "Last Night When We Were Young"). The repertoire, which has several expected swing standards, also includes a boppish original by Harrell (the opening "More Than Ever") and a song apiece by Lennon & McCartney, Sonny Stitt and Antonio Carlos Jobim. "These Foolish Things" and "Supposin'" are particularly delightful, for they feature a trio comprised of Pep and the two guitars. This was the first time Alden and Byrd had recorded together, and their interplay is quite special. There are many subtle surprises throughout the set, such as the tango rhythm given "It's a Lonesome Old Town," the pure joy to be heard in the jubilant Brazilian folk song "Bonicrates De Muletas," the cooking bebop of "The Eternal Triangle," and the effective transformation of the Beatles' "In My Life" into a jazz ballad. The tricky Peplowski original "Crimehouse" (based on "Limehouse Blues") wraps up the inventive and rewarding set.

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