But while Peplowski's sound owes much to Goodman, his harmonic and melodic concepts also incorporate more modern sounds. He once spent a day jamming and learning from the great bebop saxophonist and musical perfectionist Sonny Stitt, and he never forgot the man's teachings. Indeed, the clarinetist is proud of his eclectic tastes: he listens to modern and avant-garde jazz as well as to contemporary pop and finds inspiration in a wide range of music. He makes a good living performing for audiences often less open minded than he is, but his success as a traditionalist is very much tied to his wider musical interests, which account for the exciting freshness with which he approaches the older repertoire. Some of his fans were undoubtedly surprised when he released an album of solo modern jazz material as well as symphonic concertos by Darius Milhaud and others in 1996, but for others it affirmed the distinctiveness of Peplowski's musical worldview.
Above all, Peplowski is a performer, and he has protested against the corporate anonymity of much of what we hear. As he writes, "Music should not always be an easy, passive massaging of our already-inflated egos; at its best, it's a fully participatory experience for both listener and performer." Keep this in mind when he performs at the Firefly Club on Friday, July 27.