Octet's colourful Reunion a fitting homage to the Duke
Ken Peplowski and Alan Barnes with the Woodville All-Stars Happy Reunion (Woodville Records)
Featuring Ken Peplowski (tenor sax, clarinet), Alan Barnes (alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Robert Fowler (tenor and baritone saxes, clarinet), Bruce Adams (trumpet), Mark Nightingale (trombone), Robin Aspland (piano), Andrew Cleyndert (double bass), Bobby Worth (drums).
Peplowski and Barnes team up to lead a well-integrated octet in an album of small-group swing, full of colour and contrast. Ellingtonian for the most part, it includes compositions by the Duke, Johnny Hodges, Billy Strayhorn and Trummy Young.
The only new tune is Barnes's Humph, a tribute to the late Humphrey Lyttelton. Bruce Adams does a good job of capturing Humph's Armstrong-inspired trumpet sound, while the three clarinets make this a really delightful number. Other highlights are the romantic Happy Reunion, with Peplowski on clarinet, Straight Back by Hodges, which features a lovely muted trumpet solo, Strayhorn's Four and Six, with Alan Barnes playing the Hodges role on alto sax, and Ellington's The Mooche.
Next Tuesday night in JJ Smyth's, Richie Buckley (tenor sax), Ed Deane (guitar), John Quearney (bass guitar), and Noel Bridgeman (drums) will pay tribute to Richie's late father, the saxophonist Dick Buckley.
On Thursday night in the same venue, Isotope, Hugh Buckley (guitar), Myles Drennan (piano), Damian Evans (bass) and Shane O'Donovan (drums), will play the music of Thelonious Monk.