A Norman Rockwell approach to classic American music without beating The Great American Songbook into oblivion.
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz
In fact, Maybe September from Ken Peplowski works so incredibly well because instead of opting for the predictable set list one might expect, rare and little heard jewels from Irving Berlin, Artie Shaw and Duke Ellington are dusted off and given a second life thanks to the virtuoso talent of Peplowski. Long known as a clarinet titan, Ken proves he is equally comfortable not to mention more than proficient as a tenor man.
Aside from an eclectic yet still highly accessible selection of tunes, the remaining cast of characters here rounds out as fine a 4tet as one could hope for. Ted Rosenthal on piano, Martin Wind on bass and Matt Wilson on drums blend effortlessly together and create that special brand of harmonic synergy that is sometimes hard to find yet magical when pulled off with precision. Some of the more unexpected tunes here include "Caroline, No" from the Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds release and celebrated French composer, Francis Poulenc with "Romanza" from the Poulenc Clarinet Sonata. A slow groove permeates the session with a masterful riff on the Duke Ellington composition "Main Stem" while the Lennon / McCartney classic "For No One" makes the improvisational transition with ease.
While the tunes are a bit melancholy from a lyrical perspective. It is the recording process that seals the deal and elevates an otherwise good recording to a "special" recording as the 4tet recorded in one room, one session. The end result as Peplowski states is a "warts and all", raw-boned effort. While finding the occasional "wart" here may be the sonic equivalent of "Where's Waldo?", I prefer to think of Maybe September as embracing the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi which celebrates the imperfection as part of a larger more beautiful picture.
4 Very Solid Stars.
Tracks: All Alone By The Telephone; Moon Ray; Always A Bridesmaid; A Fool Such As I; Romanza; Caroline No.; For No One; I'll String Along With You; Main Stem; Maybe September; Without Her.
Personnel: Ken Peplowski: Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone; Ted Rosenthal: Piano; Martin Wind: Bass; Matt Wilson: Drums