Thursday, December 21, 2006

Comments/Kenny Davern

I had some funny comments about my last missive,but the best was from someone who said he/she had another reason for me to hide in my room-they burned copies of my CD!Actually,this is a tough one-in some cases,that's the only way to hear music that's not distributed well,and may draw future PAYING customers into the fold.With my old CDs on Concord Records,for example, they have little or no interest in their back catalog-they've deleted almost everything (not just mine),won't let us buy the masters,and crank out cheesy compilations of songs that every jazz lover already has! But who am I to argue with success-just because I've recieved no quarterly statements of earnings,had tracks licensed for other use without my knowledge or approval,and keep remembering my last meeting with the then vice-president who had never even heard of the jazz producer George Avakian (I wanted him to man the helm of my last project for them),and,astoundingly,professed to never having heard the recordings associated with him (Miles Davis,Duke Ellington,Thelonius Monk,Louis Armstrong,etc.),I'M NOT BITTER!!!!!!!!!!!!But to you small cabal out there who remember the music I made for them,I say:Burn Away!!!(note to the legal dept. of Concord:I,of course,am just kidding-ahahhahahahahahhahahahahah)And good luck with your future projects-taking dead people's notes and grafting them on to whatever sticks-enjoy your sales while you can!

Kenny Davern
We lost one of the great ones last week-Kenny Davern died suddenly of a heart attack at 71 years old.He was a true original both musically and personally,with an almost fanatical desire to tear down any walls of pretentiousness or pomposity around him.He was also funny,with a wicked sense of humor and a great laugh-I remember,years ago,going to a supposed "up-scale" restaurant with him,where you needed a thesaurus for the menu,and the food was even worse than the bad service.At the end of the meal,the waiter came up with the bill,and asked,"Do you need anything else?" Kenny looked him straight in the eye and said,"Yeah,how about a stomach-pump?"I was mortified and strangely proud/envious of him at the same time....There were also the constant battles with his chief nemesis,the Sound Man,which I think a small,morbid part of him secretly enjoyed-Why else would he wait until he got on the bandstand to inform the sound-man that there would be no microphones,jazz was meant to be acoustic,etc.(Although,fascinatingly,he used the microphone to make these announcements!!!)Of course,Kenny Davern had,unquestionably, the biggest sound I've ever heard on the clarinet,and so was proven right in most of these battles....
More importantly,no-one played like Kenny Davern.He had the great mis-fortune,largely because of the material he chose to interpret and the ignorance of many critics,of being labelled a "traditional" jazz player.There was nothing traditional about him-he was more knowledgeable about the mechanics of the clarinet than most repairmen,and utilized everything in and out of the book-false fingerings,harmonics,an astounding upper range,bends,lip-slurs,you name it-an astounding,and incredibly moving,musician.
When he was among us,he seemed larger than life-now,sadly,he truly is....
Until next time,take care-Ken Peplowski

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Why We Lock Ourselves In Our Hotel Rooms Part 1

Now,before I start hearing from people telling me how ungrateful I am to my audience,let me just say that,generally,I have a deep appreciation of my fans' "love'....After all,there is ,and should be, a certain intimacy between performer and audience.It's just that there's a certain type of person who uses this "relationship" to get out the same kind of passive/aggressive behavior they would normally save for their spouse-behind closed doors!This,then,is our subject for today...Now let us begin.....

There she was-the sweet,kindly-looking little old lady timidly approaching me at a jazz festival to tell me something.This is how the conversation went.
"Excuse me,Mr. Peplowski?"
"I bought your last album...."
(As my chest burst with anticipatory pride)"Why,thank y-"
"I was very disappointed."
What does one say to this?In my case,I looked at her and replied,"Well,I'm glad to know that-I'll have the rest of them recalled immediately."
She just walked away,as we both shook our heads sadly....

That was the "fan-as-critic."Now we move on to the personal attacks.

I just happened to catch his eye from across a crowded ballroom,where we were playing at a jazz "party".He was in a wheelchair,breathing through an oxygen tube,and was beckoning me with a wizened claw to come all the way over to where he was,across a sea of people...I dutifully walked over,carefully negotiating all the chairs,tables,waiters,and general bustle,and bent down to hear what he was trying to tell me.It sounded like....wait-it was-
"You don't look like you've been missing many meals."And,in case I didn't quite get the gist of what he was saying,he followed that zinger with: "You've really gotten fat."I staggered away,with my frozen iloveyoualliloveyoualliloveyouall smile pasted on my face.

There's also the "I remember you when you had a full head of hair" personal-attack variation,usually coming from a person who remembers when Abe Lincoln had a full head of hair!

Then we have the "insider." He sidles up to me with a conspiratorial glance,and this conversation ensues:
"Now,we both know each other-how much would you charge to play a concert for me-and I don't want to go through your agent-I want to negotiate directly with you!"
As my butt-cheeks clench vigorously,I refrain from saying,"How much would you charge me for a gall-bladder operation-and I don't want to go through the insurance company,I want to deal directly with you!"
Instead,I hem and haw,and make some lame excuse that I'll have to get back to him/her.

Then we have the jazz "expert",who already knows the answer they want me to give them before they even ask the question,which is inevitably,"Who's better-Artie Shaw or Benny Goodman?"There's also the shorthand version,where they just jab me in the stomach and bark out,"Benny or Artie?"There's two points to be made about this:1.I really don't care who is or was better,and 2.Thanks for taking me completely out of the equation in your list of all-time greats!

There's also the "I prefer you on saxophone/clarinet",or its companion piece,"I hate the saxophone/clarinet!"We'll just move on from this one for now,though,and skip to my all-time favorite:


This is a person who usually has a copy of my first record (preferably the giant LP-size version),who sidles up to me,eyebrows akimbo,arms behind his back.....
"I've got something to show you..."
My heart is already sinking (for I know what's coming) as my face registers (fake) bafflement and curiousity."What is it?" I gulp,knowing full well what "it" is.
From behind him,he whisks out the Giant Record Cover With My 25-Year Old Head on it."What do you think about that?"
I ask you,ladies and gentleman of the jury,what should I reply?"Oh-I didn't know those were for sale."or "I thought I had the only copy" or (closer to the response they really want), "You see,I did look good 6,000 gigs ago!"
I guess the best answer I ever heard was from trumpeter Warren Vache,who,when accosted with a double dose of,"You've gotten fat and bald!",leaned down,graciously shook the message-bearer's hand,and sweetly replied-"Thank you-and may I say that you look exactly the same as you did twenty-five years ago!"

Bye for now! Ken "I love everyone" Peplowski

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Holiday Tale Part Two (see previous post)

OK, first of all, I realize I've inadvertently left off an extra "a" in 'Kwanzaa' (see my last posting), so I must apologize to the following: All the people who observe Kwanzaa; The letter "a"; and Thomas Gutenberg.Sincerely, Kn Pplowski

And now,on to:


It seems that one day Shekel, the God Of Tipping, was playing whist with his friends Gropo, the God Of Overly-Familiar Embracing, and DelRubio, the Goddess Of Three-Part Harmony Groups, when he had an epiphany. Once his friends had recovered from the shock and cleaned up the table,Gropo said, "I'm bored-Let's create something.....But what?"
DelRubio quickly replied,"What if we created someone who would steal from the rich and give to the poor?"
"Already done",scoffed Shekel."Remember 'Robin Hood' and his band of suspiciously merry men?"
"Oh,yeah", said Gropo. "But wait a minute-what if we create someone who steals from the poor and gives to the rich?"
And that is why, every December 21, we celebrate the creation of Trickle, the God Of Supply-Side Economics.

Happy Holidays!!!!!!

A Holiday Tale

.........For It Was Told That On This Day, the Great God Thoth, Giver Of Heat Rash, ascended to the skies in a winged chariot (Delta to you). And It Was Good......
..........And on that day, the Great Dwarf Rictus (he was called the "Great" Dwarf because he stood about 6'5") gazed into his Bowl Of Chiclets and saw his shadow. This, as everyone knows, foretold another 4 months of Dental Work. And It Was Good........
............And on the eve of the next morning about a week-and-a-half later, the lambs lieth down with the wolves, the crocodiles lieth down with the canaries, and, once again, the Goat-Herders were rounded up and arrested for Unspeakable Acts. And It Was Good...........
.............And, finally, a child was born, fair of skin, dark of complexion, and as funny as Carrot-Top. This child would go on to be a Great Accountant. The child in the next manger over, however, would go on to perform many semi-miraculous deeds. He could turn water into Fresca. He could make a blind man lame. He could take the most mundane thoughts and turn them into a Top 40 Hit. AND IT WAS GOOD...........
.................And so, we'd all of us here at Team Peplowski like to wish you a very Happy 22nd of December. (Oh, and a Merry Christmas,too!) (Oh, and Happy Chanukah) (Good Kwanza)
And Peace on Earth.