American reedsman Ken Peplowski's second appearance on Woodville Records features him with UK saxophonist/clarinettist Alan Barnes and an all-star octet. The music is beautifully orchestrated and features these superb players performing the music of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and Johnny Hodges.
'Happy Reunion' is actually the third time that Barnes has embraced a similar repertoire as two previous Woodville releases - 'Harlem Airshaft' (the music of Ellington and Strayhorn) and 'Hi-Ya' (the music of Johnny Hodges) - have explored these themes. The soloists on this recording are some of the finest in mainstream jazz and they respond brilliantly to the challenge of these wonderful tunes. The result is a tight, swinging session with a distinct "after-hours" feel to it.
Personnel: Ken Peplowski (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Alan Barnes (alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Robert Fowler (tenor and baritone saxophone, clarinet), Bruce Adams (trumpet), Mark Nightingale (trombone), Robin Aspland (piano), Andrew Cleyndert (double bass), Bobby Worth (drums)
(4 stars) Fine album...the on-form Nightingale sounding jubilant...music of this quality takes time and talent to achieve. -- Jazzwise, (Peter Vacher), March 2011
(5 stars) The two headliners' rapport shines through, and both play at the top of their game. --Scotland On Sunday, (Alison Kerr), February 27, 2011