The Peggy Lee Band: Invitation (2012)
This is the fifth album, and second on Drip Audio, of Vancouver-based cellist Peggy Lee's ensemble. The Peggy Lee Band members are all solid players, and each has their turn taking the lead through this 11-song recording. The strong tunes occasionally evoke the feel and vibe of guitarist Bill Frisell's early '90s sextet classics This Land (Nonesuch, 1994) and Have a Little Faith (Nonesuch, 1993).
The songs range from the vaudeville-esque "Why Are You Yelling," with its spiky yet bluesy guitar opening to "Path of a Smile," the album's best track with an urgent melody alternating with a calmer theme. The Frisell vibe is most noticeable on "Chorale" and "Not So Far," but it's not an attempt to copy; rather, it takes it as inspiration with its simple and elegant melody, often shared between instruments. "Punchy" is the jazziest tune here, with its intertwining horn lines, but things open up a bit with a free-form guitar section. Samworth evokes some wonderful, swirling 12-string sounds on "Little Pieces," a mid-album highlight, while the package is complete with the closing "Warming," as the bow that ties all the songs together.
Also appearing is a cover of Mary Margaret O'Hara's "You Will Be Loved Again," from the singer/songwriter's Miss America (Virgin, 1988). The tune has Brahms' "Lullaby" as counter-melody which, upon careful listening, reveals its presence but only as a mere wisp of the original. The sympathies between this band and O'Hara were seen previously when the band supported the singer over this past summer, releasing a CD of their first show together as well as putting on an excellent show at the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival.
The songs are varied yet there is an overall sense of completeness that makes this a great album, rather than just an assemblage of good songs.
Track Listing: Invitation; Why Are You Yelling?; Your Grace; Chorale; Path of a Smile; Not So Far; Little Pieces; You Will Be Loved Again; Punch; End Waltz; Warming.
Personnel: Peggy Lee: cello; Brad Turner: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jon Bentley: tenor saxophone; Jeremy Berkman: trombone; Ron Samworth: guitars; Tony Wilson: electric guitar; Andre Lachance: electric bass; Dylan van der Schyff: drums, percussion.