Ken Peplowski

Music Selections
Listen to selections from Ken Peplowski – Live in the U.K.:

All This and Heaven Too: MP3 or Windows Media Player

Can’t We Be Friends: MP3 or Windows Media Player

Sonny Side: MP3 or Windows Media Player

Now and Then There’s a Fool Such As I: MP3 or Windows Media Player




Noted New York Times music critic John S. Wilson called Ken Peplowski “a clarinetist with a Benny Goodman tone and a Buddy DeFranco style.” As Ken was a member of Goodman’s working orchestra, the comparison is not surprising. The late Mel Torme said, “Since the advent of Benny Goodman, there have been too few clarinetists to fill the void that Goodman left. Ken Peplowski is most certainly one of those few. The man is magic.”

Though barely 40 years old, Ken already casts a long shadow in the music world. He has an astounding 16 solo albums with the prestigious Concord Jazz recording label. Always a top contender in Downbeat Magazine’s critics and readers poll, Ken tours the globe 12 months a year performing in the top jazz clubs, performing arts centers, jazz festivals and symphony halls.

Ken’s next compact disc is an effort on Koch Records, All This…And Heaven Too, recorded in London it will be in stores in January of 2001.

In addition to his great musicianship, Ken is regarded as an extremely entertaining performer. His warmth, wit and humor delight audiences.

“When you grow up in Cleveland playing in a Polish polka band, you learn to think fast on your feet,” said Peplowski.

Born on May 23, 1959, in Cleveland, Ohio, Ken first played the clarinet when he was seven years old. “My brother, Ted, plays trumpet, and when I was 10 years old and he was 12, we put together a Polish polka band. As soon as I started playing gigs and going out performing, I knew I wanted to play music for a living,” said Peplowski.

Ken made local radio and television appearances and played orchestral and jazz arrangements before joining the Tommy Dorsey Band under the direction of Buddy Morrow in 1978.

“It was a very swinging band. We were on the road 48 weeks out of the year, all one-nighters, and the discipline was a good experience for me. I played lead alto, and Buddy gave me a feature spot on the clarinet with the rhythm section in the middle of each program,” said Peplowski.

While on the road with the Dorsey band he met saxophonist Sonny Stitt. “He told me, ‘You can learn from everybody, even bad musicians.’ He was right, you learn what to do and what not to do. Even with some of the worst Dixieland bands, I had to learn – or sometimes fake – songs I’d never heard before. Everything can be a positive experience,” says Ken.

In 1980 Ken moved to New York and was soon playing in such musical settings as avant-garde jazz ensembles and symphony orchestras. He also began making movie sound tracks and commercial recordings. During the 80s he began recording and performing with musicians as diverse as Mel Torme, Charlie Byrd, Peggy Lee, George Shearing, Tom Harrell, Hank Jones, Leon Redbone, Woody Allen, Erich Kunzel and Rosemary Clooney.

Then in 1984 Benny Goodman put together a new big band to do some touring. Benny personally auditioned Ken and hired him as a tenor saxophonist.

“Benny was very demanding on the musicians and on himself. Generally, if you respected him and were there to play his music for him, he respected you back. I like him a lot, and we got pretty close. Part of the key to unlocking the enigma of him is that he thought about music 24 hours a day.”

I think he was as great a figure to the clarinet as Louis Armstrong was to the trumpet. He was an astounding virtuoso with incredible technique and a thorough knowledge of chords and rhythm; he did a lot of things harmonically that were way ahead of their time.”

In 1988 Carl Jefferson, the founder and President of Concord Records, tapped Ken to record his first solo album entitle Double Exposure. The title calls attention to his proficiency on both a clarinet and tenor saxophone. 15 albums followed including The Natural Touch in 1992 for which we won Best Jazz Record of the Year at the Prises Der Deutschen Schallplatten Kritik, the German equivalent of the Grammys. His latest is 1999’s Last Swing of the Century, playing the music of Benny Goodman.

Ken resides in New York with his wife Kerstin and their son Jeffrey.


  • Last Swing of the Century
  • The Feeling of Jazz (with Tommy Newsom)
  • Grenadilla
  • A Good Read
  • The Other Portrait
  • It’s A Lonesome Old Town
  • Encore! (with Howard Alden)
  • Live at Ambassador Auditorium
  • Steppin’with Peps
  • Concord Duo Series, Volume Three
  • The Natural Touch
  • Groovin’ High (with Scott Hamilton & Spike Robinson)
  • The Bossa Nova Years (with the Charlie Byrd Trio)
  • Illuminations
  • Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool
  • Sonny Side
  • Double Exposure

For more information, contact Mr. Peplowski’s management office:
International Ventures Inc., [661] 259.4500