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Columbus Jazz Orchestra's "Basie, Buddy & Benny" featuring Butch Miles & Ken Peplowski

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by Mark Subel on February 28, 2011

Jazz royalty takes center stage as the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (JAG) celebrates Count Basie, Buddy Rich and the “King of Swing,” Benny Goodman, March 16-20 at the historic Southern Theatre. Under the direction of Artistic Director Byron Stripling, the Columbus Jazz Orchestra honors the three Bs of jazz with “Basie, Buddy & Benny” featuring drummer Butch Miles and clarinetist Ken Peplowski.

Playing with such luminaries as Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dave Brubeck, Mel Torme´, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Benny Goodman, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Itzak Pearlman, Dick Hyman and others, Butch Miles displays the maturity of his experience with youthful imagination and unending energy.

As the drummer for the world-famous Count Basie Orchestra (1975-1979 and 1997-2007), Miles quickly became renowned for his swinging big band style and techniques. Butch’s first drum hero was Gene Krupa, but he listened to every drummer he possibly could including Buddy Rich, Chick Webb, and the great Count Basie drummer, Sonny Payne, citing him as a major influence.

Miles has recorded over 100 albums and has been on four Grammy-winning albums along with being nominated numerous times for the European equivalent of the Grammy. He has performed at every major jazz festival in the world and has performed at the Newport Jazz Festival (now the “JVC Jazz Festival”) since 1975.

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.” Not only is he an outstanding clarinetist 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.

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, Peplowski played in a Polish polka band and performed his first pro engagement when he was still in elementary school. In 1980, Ken moved to New York City, and was soon playing in all kinds of settings, from Dixieland to avant-garde jazz. In 1984, Benny Goodman came out of retirement and put together a new band, hiring Ken on tenor saxophone.

“I think Benny was as great a figure to the clarinet as Louis Armstrong was to the trumpet. He was an extremely tough band leader, but he was as demanding on himself as he was on us – if you showed him respect and were there to play his music for him, he respected you back, and I have yet to work with anyone else that could get such great results out of a band.”

Single tickets are available through the CAPA Ticket Office for $49 (main floor), $46 (first balcony) and $41 (second balcony). Tickets are available by phone at 614-469-0939 and through all Ticketmaster outlets. For more information call 614-294-5200 or visit www.jazzartsgroup.org.

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