Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dick Hyman & Ken Peplowski … Live at the Kitano

Pianist Dick Hyman and clarinetist and saxophonist Ken Peplowski have been together for some 25 years, but in 2012 the duo spent a week at The Kitano Hotel New York City. A new CD on Victoria Records captures the two in performance that weekend … Live at the Kitano, and the two certainly play quite well together. There is quite a nice group of songs that the two are heard on including Rodgers and Hart’s The Blues Room, Hawkins and Monk’s I Mean You!, W.C. Handy’s Yellow Dog Blues and My Ship, by Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weil.”

The really opening The Blue Room may be familiar to some from the hot swing rendition by Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra or Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall rendition. The rendition here opens in a stately, reflective manner before the pair explore it at a quicker tempo. Peplowski is on tenor for Gone With The Wind, and to this listener this performance has some allusions to the Art Tatum small group recording with Ben Webster. Hyman’s crisp, clean playing compliments Peplowski’s tenor that evokes the great ballad player with his tone. They get playful and spirited with Peplowski back on clarinet on the Hawkins-Monk classic.

Hyman opens Yellow Dog Blues with some two-handed boogie-laced barrelhouse piano before Peplowski states the theme and takes some leaps on clarinet here. The two shine on the rendition of Monk’s Ugly Beauty, with Hyman’s restrained stride-based solo marvelous and Peplowski’s clarinet conveying a pensive mood. The album closes with Peplowski back on tenor sax on a medley of Lover, Come Back to Me with Horace Silver’s Quicksilver

One is almost envious of those who were in the audience when this was recorded. David Kowalski is responsible for the fine location recording of the performances. One can hear clarinet squeaks, the rumbling bass on the piano, the vibrato of Peplowski’s tenor sax playing and the audience’s enthusiasm with considerable clarity. Hyman and Peplowski are skilled veterans rooted in the swing era and whose empathy for each other is obvious throughout this terrific recording.

I received a review copy from a publicist.

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