Ken Peplowski Gypsy Jazz Band / Ken Peplowski

Gypsy Lamento

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Ken Peplowski has long shown interest in a number of different jazz styles, but this CD is his first strictly Gypsy swing session. Recruiting two of the most versatile guitarists for the date, Bucky Pizzarelli and Howard Alden, veterans Frank Tate on bass and Chuck Redd on drums, and the promising young violinist Aaron Weinstein (on selected tracks), Peplowski alternates between tenor sax and clarinet, covering a set list that is mostly drawn from the Quintet of the Hot Club of France and postwar Django Reinhardt records. The reed player showcases both instruments in his delightful take of "Please," overlapping them in spots via overdubbing. Peplowski takes a back seat to the two guitarists in "Nuages," with Pizzarelli taking the opening solo (easily identified by anyone who has heard him play this standard in person) and Alden following the leader's feature. Weinstein takes part in the chugging "Minor Swing," sounding very mature for his tender years. "Anouman" is one of Reinhardt's gems from near the end of his life; surprisingly, it is infrequently performed. Peplowski's lyrical, spacious clarinet is a highlight of this moving rendition. This enjoyable tribute to Django Reinhardt merits a follow-up CD. One minor beef: unless one can read the Japanese-only liner notes, it is nearly impossible to tell which guitarist is soloing on several selections; presumably the duties are shared.

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