Michael Moore

The History of Jazz, Vol. 1

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A pianoless trio of bassist Michael Moore with Ken Peplowski (tenor sax/clarinet) and Tom Melito (drums) scan the legacy of jazz from the early '20s through the Swing Era, big band, and bop tunes up to compositions by Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Clare Fischer. Everything revolves around the probing basslines of Moore, a very formidable interpreter and soloist who is generally underappreciated in the general scheme of jazz. Peplowski is not so unsung, and shines throughout. On clarinet he lifts the lilt of the ultra-melodic Evans waltz "Very Early," employs spare phrases with Moore's bowed bass during the bopper "Donna Lee," and circles the bass arco line of "Body & Soul." With the noble wooden horn he leads and goes into an animated mode for the Latin-to-swing "A Night in Tunisia"; goes classy and near classical in a patient, almost haunting refrain for "The Peacocks"; and instead of tenor, he goes for it on clarinet during the free-to-light swing Coltrane classic "Wise One," as a bowed bass melody with Melito's rolling mallets on toms and cymbals fire up a spiritual Peplowski. As a major league tenor player, Peplowski evokes images of the greats while injecting his own ideas. The maddening triple time of "Hashimoto's (a.k.a. Limehouse) Blues," has Peplowski flying, while "Creole Love Call" (normally a clarinet vehicle) shows his tenor swinging and rambling with cowboy rhythms, courtesy Melito, while Fischer's quick bossa "Pensativa" shows Peplowski in contrasting quietude. More bluesy is the easily paced "I'm Coming Virginia," with Moore's strummed bass; a moaning bowed bass with Moore's significant other tenor on the patient ballad take of "Once in a While" perfectly shows this symbiotic relationship heard through the CD. An easily swung "Monk's Dream" showcases a head-nodding groove twixt bass and drums only. This was a nice idea worth exploring further; the piano or brass is not missed. Recommended.

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