443

Peggy Lee: Black Coffee

David Rickert By

Sign in to view read count
Peggy Lee: Black Coffee "A Woman Alone With the Blues" features sparse piano, whispering drums, and a mournful trumpet lurking in the background. But it's the vocals that really push it over the edge. Peggy Lee doesn't sing this song; she crawls into it and huddles in the dark spaces, as she does on virtually all of the songs on 1956's Black Coffee.

Lee got her start with Benny Goodman churning out hits like "Why Don't You Do Right." She used her superior vocal ability to strike out on her own like many of the big band singers of the time, who quickly emerged as the real attraction. But nobody was really prepared for Black Coffee, a statement that easily stands up next to the best work of Ella, Sarah, and Billie.

The title song is the typical blue flame ballad that one always associates with smoky jazz clubs and perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the album. The original ten-inch release had Lee backed by a quartet on a handful of torch songs and blues. Lee jumps into the river that goes all the way back to Ethel Waters, showing an ability to live through the lyrics normally associated with Billie Holiday. Through the tales of love lost, only "I've Got You Under My Skin" breaks through the clouds, but whoever this fellow may be she's singing about, he didn't last for long.

Four tracks pad out the original release to plump it up to a full length LP. A harp, guitar, and vibes provide a gossamer texture, used to good effect on the virtually tempoless "You're My Thrill" and the music box introduction to "There's A Small Hotel." Like any good album, the strength is in the details, and the group has fashioned clever twists to familiar songs that are strung together as an album that deserves to be heard as a complete statement.

"I'd rather be lonely than happy with somebody else," Lee sings. The melancholy ballads here may make one believe otherwise. Black Coffee proves that thoughtful song selection, intelligent accompaniment, and brilliant singing can combine to create a work of art. Although known more for her pop efforts, Lee has created one of the best examples of jazz singing ever recorded.


Track Listing: 1. Black Coffee 2. I've Got You Under My Skin 3. Easy Living 4. My Heart Belongs To Daddy 5. It Ain't Necessarily So 6. Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good To You? 7. A Woman Alone With the Blues 8. I Didn't Know What Time It Was 9. When The World Was Young 10. Love Me Or Leave Me 11. You're My Thrill 12. There's A Small Hotel.

Personnel: Peggy Lee - vocals; with (on 1-4 and 7-10) Pete Condoli - trumpet; Jimmy Rowles - piano; Max Wayne - bass; Ed Shaugnessy - drums; (on 5, 6, 11, and 12) Stella Castellucci - harp; Lou Levy - piano; Bill Pittman - guitar; Buddy Clark - bass; Larry Bunker - drums, vibraphone, percussion.

Title: Black Coffee | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Verve Music Group


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read Flesh & Bone CD/LP/Track Review Flesh & Bone
by Troy Collins
Published: August 22, 2017
Read Generations CD/LP/Track Review Generations
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 22, 2017
Read 90 Going On Amazing CD/LP/Track Review 90 Going On Amazing
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Greatest Hits" CD/LP/Track Review Greatest Hits
by Doug Collette
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Green With Envy" CD/LP/Track Review Green With Envy
by James Nadal
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Machine Gun: Live At The Fillmore East First Show" CD/LP/Track Review Machine Gun: Live At The Fillmore East First Show
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Southern Avenue" CD/LP/Track Review Southern Avenue
by James Nadal
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" CD/LP/Track Review Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "Tetrawind" CD/LP/Track Review Tetrawind
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 24, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.