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Dialogues by Kenny Davern and Ken Peplowski

Jazz is built on dialogues. On this release the participants are reed masters and good friends, Ken Peplowski and the late Kenny Davern, joined in the conversation by an outstanding rhythm section. Davern preferred guitar, rather than piano, accompaniment, and here he has double the pleasure with Howard Alden and James Chirillo. Check out their gem of a duo track, "Nobody Else But Me," and you'll understand why. Bassist Nicki Parrott first caught my attention with her performance on Arbors' 2001 release, High Energy, no easy task when playing with the flamboyant pianist Derek Smith. Tony DeNicola, who passed away in 2006, was a fine drummer and long-time associate of Davern.

The dialogue includes solos. riffs, trades and counterpoint, and begins up tempo. Peplowski, a virtuoso clarinetist, who was chosen by Goodman for his last touring band, brought along his tenor. He plays with warmth and agility as the group swings through "If Dreams Come True" and "Crazy Rhythm" and feasts on the "Lady Be Good" changes of "The Diner."

Then we have a clarinet summit meeting, allowing Davern to display incredible range and the mellowest of lower register tones. The tempos are just right and the approaches vary. "Comes Love" suggests a Yiddish shuffle. The sextet flies through "Should I" while "Sometimes I'm Happy" is beignet-light. We march through New Orleans to the strains of "High Society" with lively banjo strumming by the guitarists and the session closes as the muskrat's usual ramble becomes a samba.

Davern loved playing traditional repertoire. However, as Ken Peplowski wrote in his blog following Davern's sudden passing in December 2006: "There was nothing traditional about him - he was more knowledgeable about the mechanics of the clarinet than most repairmen, and utilized everything in and out of the book - false fingerings, harmonics, an astounding upper range, bends, lip-slurs, you name it - an astounding, and incredibly moving, musician."

Dialogues, a beautiful album, was Kenny Davern's last studio recording for Arbors. He didn't have time to say goodbye but his final notes on "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me" will suffice.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Kenny Davern and Ken Peplowski
  • CD Title: Dialogues
  • Genre: Traditional / New Orleans
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Arbors
  • Rating: Five Stars
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