Ken Peplowski: Swingin’ with Peps

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I first heard Ken Peplowski some 30 years ago when I purchased his 2nd album as a leader, Sonny Side. I was blown away by his clarinet virtuosity (“Ring Dem Bells”) and his beautiful approach on tenor sax (“Bright Moments”). His very different approaches to sound and styles on these instruments is rare among great clarinet/sax players and led me to stay abreast of his recordings and development. In addition to being a terrific player, he is enormously funny and a wonderful storyteller. He is constantly looking for new musical challenges, as he discusses in this interview. Ken also talks about the support he received as a young player from such notable musicians as Buddy Morrow and Milt Hinton as well as Carl Jefferson of Concord Records. He has recorded in a wide variety of settings as evidenced by his most recent albums with a big band (Sunrise) and a duo with guitar (Amizade). Very much in demand as a soloist, festival director, and clinician, Ken always seems to be working and on the road. To keep up with his performances and to learn more about his recordings, please visit:

About the Artist: Cleveland, Ohio native Ken Peplowski (“Peps” as he’s affectionately known among musicians) has established himself over the past fourty years as one of the top-flight clarinet/tenor sax players in the world. A veteran of the Tommy Dorsey band in his earliest professional work, he quickly established himself in New York in the early 1980s as a versatile and requested sideman while working with legends such as Hank Jones, Milt Hinton, Charlie Byrd, Benny Goodman, George Shearing, Dick Hyman, Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney and Peggy Lee. He began his solo career in 1988 and has since recorded 32 albums as a leader and many hundreds more as a sideman. Equally comfortable in swing, bebop, and classical styles, Ken is at the forefront in leading a revival of the clarinet in jazz. He has been the recipient of many awards and is always at the top of the jazz clarinet category in critics and listener polls. A consummate entertainer as well, Ken can be seen around the world leading a small group, big band, in duo performance, or in front of a symphony orchestra as guest soloist. He is a longtime Buffet Crampon artist.


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