1. Pow Wow
2. Dream Dancing
3. Did I Remember?
4. Very Early
5. Who Knows
6. After All
8. I See Your Face Before Me
9. Tempus Fugit
10. The Land of the Loon
11. The Things We Did Last Summer
13. Lucky To Be Me
Howard Alden - Guitar
Ken Peplowski - Tenor sax, clarinet
is listening music, par excellence.
Whether they are playing together in small
groups or big bands, jazz musicians need to
listen and react to one another, as that interplay
is invariably an essential ingredient for
good jazz. Jazz doesn't just involve playing
notes printed on a page - it necessitates
creative collaboration with other musicians.
Even a jazzman playing entirely on his own
has to listen to himself rather than just
spinning out a series of notes.
truth is perhaps most evident in a duo - one
of the most concentrated forms of jazz, where
both musicians have to be constantly aware
of what their colleague is doing. That is
certainly the case with this duo of guitarist
Howard Alden and reedman Ken Peplowski. Howard
Alden continually changes his style to suit
what Peplowski is playing, and vice versa.
In fact you can hear Howard switching between
soloing, providing rhythm or bass lines, and
often playing in counterpoint with Ken. The
result is a genuine meeting of two fine musical
minds, whose technique is sufficiently secure
for them to achieve whatever they set out
to do. Their duets are sometimes reminiscent
of the "chamber jazz" by such groups as the
Jimmy Giuffre Trio, where sax or clarinet
worked in perfect harmony with guitar.
the apparent limitations of such a two-man
band, there is plenty of variety. Peplowski
switches easily between tenor sax and clarinet,
producing a warm tone on both instruments.
And although the repertoire includes several
jazz standards, the programme is far from
hackneyed. The variety of material is illustrated
by Who Knows, a neglected Duke Ellington
tune, and The Land of the Loon, a little-known
composition by Eastwood Lane which Howard
plays entirely on his own. Ken responds by
playing I See Your Face Before Me unaccompanied:
a hard task for a clarinettist, but he pulls
it off. The duo even plays Panama,
an old trad warhorse with several different
sections, which you can feel the two players
revelling in. Alden supplies the guitar equivalent
of a stride piano behind Peplowski's clarinet.
opening title-track (like the later Bossango)
was composed by guitarist Joe Puma and is
an unusual variant on Cherokee, with
Howard and Ken playing in unison, swapping
fours and maintaining a driving swing all
the while. But every track has its own pleasures.
Savour the delicacy of Ken's clarinet in Billy
Strayhorn's After All; the duo's facility
in negotiating the twists and turns of Bud
Powell's Tempus Fugit; and the relaxed
but thoughtful closing performance of Lucky
To Be Me. This album is a delight from
start to finish.