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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Happy Together

Nagel Heyer CD 097




1. Vignette
2. I Want to be Happy
3. Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You
4. The World is Waiting for the Sunrise
5. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
6. In Your Own Sweet Way
7. Centerpiece
Ken Peplowski - Tenor sax, clarinet
Jesper Thilo - Tenor sax, clarinet, vocals
Thilo Wagner - Piano
Isla Eckinger - Bass
Gregor Beck - Drums

When two tenor-saxophonists get together, the result is often a battle - as there was in "The Chase" session between Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray. But on this CD, the American reedman Ken Peplowski and Jesper Thilo (the latter from Denmark) combine for a friendly session of swinging jazz, co-operating rather than competing.

The recording was actually made in April 2002 at the Birdland jazz Club - not the famous one in New York but the version in Hamburg. The album is dedicated to Hans Nagel-Heyer, who sadly died last year. He and his wife Sabine ran one of the most productive of all mainstream labels.

Ken and Jesper work well together, harmonising in the theme statements and then generally taking separate solos. This arouses some puzzles, as both men play tenor saxes on the first and last tracks, and clarinets on The World is Waiting for the Sunrise, and the sleeve-note gives no details of who is playing when. Certainly it is Peplowski who plays the poignant clarinet in Polka Dots and Moonbeams but on other tracks it would be nice to be able to distinguish more clearly between the players. You simply have to sit back and enjoy the uninhibited swing of I Want to be Happy and The World is Waiting for the Sunrise, or the imaginative approach to Centerpiece, which develops into several different tunes.

The rhythm section supplies sympathetic backing and there are good piano solos from Thilo Wagner, while Isla Eckinger and Gregor Beck drive the session along energetically. The whole quintet sounds, as the album title suggests, happy together.

Tony Augarde





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