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Josh Rzepka and Jerry Popiel get graded

Josh Rzepka

(self-released) 

joshrzepka.com

Josh Rzepka plays dry, warm trumpet on his cleverly named CD, showcasing mostly midtempo originals in an impressive display of chops and taste. Backed by pianist Jackie Warren, the precise, swinging bass of Peter Dominguez and the charged drumming of Ron Godale, Rzepka has crafted a winning, listenable recording debut. Mainstream, bop-based jazz at its most accessible, Midwest Coast is never bland or overly smooth. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, Rzepka is an Akron native working on his master's degree in trumpet performance at Boston University. His CD suggests he's no longer an apprentice. In tunes like the title track, the querulous, funny "Pardon the Interruption" (salsa-fied in "Perdon la Interrupcion") and the rocking "A Few Minor Changes," Rzepka displays a refreshing grasp of melody and economy of phrase, and, in the singularly lovely "Song for a New Year," he expresses emotional depth beyond his 25 years. — Carlo Wolff

Jerry Popiel

(self-released)

jerrypopiel.com

This local singer-songwriter has a good, raspy voice and a knack for working-class anthems. While some of his phrasing is a bit off, album opener "Soul of Steel" is a solid ramshackle rocker. The same goes for the harmonica-driven "Coming or Going" and the ragged "Dare to Be Good," a jangly tune with echoes of Guided by Voices. The title track is infectious and features his strongest vocal performance. — Jeff Niesel

Jerry Popiel performs with Chris Bell at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Wilbert's (812 Huron Rd. E., 216.902.4663, wilbertsmusic.com). Donation requested.

Hear new music from Josh Rzepka and Jerry Popiel on our new online streaming jukebox: clevescene.com/kickingandstreaming.

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