Benny goes international II
International All Stars Play Benny Goodman,
International All Stars
Nagel Heyer Records
When Nagel Heyer issued the International All-Stars’ first volume dedicated to Benny Goodman last year, it left you licking your chops for the second volume. Well, it’s now in the racks, and the issue every bit as exciting and enjoyable as numero uno.
The All-Stars are built around American clarinetist Ken Peplowski and include fellow Yanks Howard Alden (guitar), Mark Shane (piano) and Joe Ascione (drums) as well as a pair of Swedes, bassist Len Skeat and vibist Lars Erstrand. And American clarinetist Allan Vache and Finnish clarinetist Antii Sarpila join the sextet on three of the 10 tracks.
But swing has a way of uniting musicians, regardless of differences in nationalities and from the opening strains of “The Sheik of Araby” that show off Peplowski’s admiration of Goodman and Shane’s deep respect for Teddy Wilson, you know it’s one of those can’t-miss recording sessions.
Although dedicated to Goodman, the All-Stars stretch beyond traditional BG boundaries. A case in point is Shane’s solo performance of the ragtiming “Jingles” and a roaring version of “Lulu’s Back In Town” that features spirited solos and exchanges among Peplowski, Vache and Sarpila.
And “Sleep,” which Benny recorded toward the end of his career, finds Peplowski attacking the tune on tenor sax rather than clarinet and Alden contributing an incredibly torrid single-note line solo.
“Jubilee,” more closely associated with Peplowski than Goodman, works its way into the program and the combination of Alden’s chordal work, Peplowski’s acrobatics and Erstrand’s quick hands provides expected fireworks. The ballads, “Everything I Love” and “All the Things You Are,” are studies in simple beauty. The former is entrusted to Alden and Peplowski, while the latter features the full sextet with Erstrand and Peplowski sharing center stage.
Both “Stompin’ at the Savoy” and “Body and Soul,” like “Lulu,” are devoted to the talents of Peplowski, Vache and Sarpila. Vache, who blows a hot horn, and Peplowski, who is more laid back, are at near opposite ends of the spectrum, while Sarpila is closer to Goodman than either of the two Americans. But each is a marvel, and together they’re awesome!
Cam Miller is a free-lance jazz critic in Lake Wildwood. Write him at The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.
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