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Knoxville Jazz Orchestra presents "Benny Goodman & Beyond with Clarinetist Ken Peplowski & the KJO"

KNOXVILLE -- The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra's 13th anniversary 2012-13 concert season begins on Tuesday, October 9th at 8pm with "Benny Goodman and Beyond with Clarinetist Ken Peplowski and the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. The program will be held at the Bijou Theatre at 803 South Gay Street.

ken peplowskiThe Swing Era of the 1930s was the height of jazz music's popularity. Of the hundreds of band leaders across the country, Benny Goodman was the one billed as "The King of Swing." The late Mel Tormé once 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." The New York Times pronounced a concert of Peplowski's "Goodman straight up, with a twist of lightning." These quotes only hint at Ken Peplowski's virtuosity – not only is he an outstanding clarinet and saxophone player, but he's also a charismatic entertainer who has been delighting audiences for over 30 years with his warmth, wit and musicianship. In his first appearance with the KJO, Peplowski will showcase Goodman's classic hits alongside his own unique take on familiar standards from the Great American Songbook.

Clarinetist, saxophonist, and bandleader, Ken Peplowski began his professional music career while still in elementary school, playing in a polka band in his childhood home of Cleveland, Ohio. This early musical experience provided a setting in which Peplowski began to develop his ability to improvise and recognize his desire to be a professional musician. By the time he was in high school, he was experimenting with jazz, teaching at a local music store, and playing with his family band. After bandleader Buddy Morrow heard Ken Peplowski and his quartet at a Cleveland jazz festival, Morrow offered him the role of lead alto and featured clarinetist with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under Morrow's direction. While on the road, Peplowski met and studied with the legendary saxophonist Sonny Stitt. After moving to New York in 1980, Peplowski performed countless jazz styles from Dixieland to avant-garde. In 1984, Peplowski had the opportunity to play in Benny Goodman's band after Goodman came out of retirement. Peplowski has collaborated with acclaimed artists including Mel Torme, Charlie Byrd, Peggy Lee, George Shearing, Madonna, Hank Jones, Rosemary Clooney, Tom Harrell, James Moody, Cedar Walton, Houston Person, Steve Allen Woody Allen, and Erich Kunzel. He has produced close to twenty albums under the Concord Records label. Some of his more recent recordings include "Lost in the Stars" and "Easy to Remember" (on Nagel Heyer Records). In addition to performing, he is also a recognized jazz clinician and teaches master classes and workshops for students of all ages. Ken Peplowski is the musical director for "The Jazz Cruise," the Oregon Festival of American Music, and the Eugene Oregon Jazz Festival and is receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Elkhart Jazz Festival.

The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra is a 17 piece big band comprised of professional musicians from across the region. Since its inception in 1999, the orchestra has performed dozens of concerts in East Tennessee, appeared on major jazz festivals in Europe, performed and recorded with internationally acclaimed guest artists, and released four critically acclaimed CD recordings.

Tickets for the event are $29.50 adult, $15.00 student. Tickets are available in advance at, by calling 684-1200 or by visiting the Tennessee Theatre Box office.

Published September 14, 2012

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