Tribute to Peggy Lee: Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl 2004
Lorraine Feather, daughter of fellow North Dakota songstress Jane Leslie and Leonard Feather, who had been introduced by Miss Lee ("It's a Good Day"), was delightfully fresh and talented, if unpolished. Jolie Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones ("Angels on Your Pillow"), was a talent I'd like to have heard more of, if she hadn't been largely overwhelmed and upstaged by the singing of Grady Tate. Maureen McGovern ("The Folks Who Live on the Hill," "Come Back to Me") sang in the rich warmth of her range; both were well presented. Nnenna Freelon ("Hallelujah, I Love Him So," "I'm Gonna Go Fishin'") could not have been more delightful; both songs were bright, fresh, and dynamic. Rita Coolidge was perfectly cast to sing "Black Coffee" and "Fever," and her performances were exciting and memorable in every way. Finally, the most pleasant surprise of the evening was Sheryl Lee Ralph, who was new to us. She was poured into a red sequined gown, under a red coat with royal purple lining (which she doffed suggestively and dropped to the stage), and, perched on what Bea Arthur would have called "f... me" high heeled shoes, she compelled attention as if a magnet. Her medley of "I'm a Woman" and "Hey Big Spender" was clearly the electrical high point of the show.
The concert ended with Miss Lee herself on the big screens singing "If That's All There Is," in all its wrenching intensity; I couldn't even comment on it five minutes later without choking up.
So, there it is: bittersweet, but ultimately compelling. God willing, I'll still be coming back for more, for as many years as I have left...