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Based in Vancouver, Canada since the early 1990s, Canadian cellist Peggy Lee has been steadily building an impressive discography. Invitation is the fifth album by her self-titled band, and the group's second release for Drip Audio. The record encompasses a broad stylistic range, revealing influences as disparate as folksy Americana and exotic Afro-popthough Lee's harmonically sophisticated arrangements expertly balance composed and improvised elements, yielding a cohesive sum greater than its parts.
The Peggy Lee Band features a young Canadian octet whose members' expertise in a wide variety of genres is keenly demonstrated throughout a diverse program, ranging from the title track's opulent fanfare to the melancholy ballad "End Waltz." Brad Turner's lyrical trumpet solo on "Path Of A Smile," Jeremy Berkman's probing trombone interlude at the center of "Why Are You Yelling?" and Jon Bentley's bracing tenor variations on "Punchy" highlight the individual contributions of the horn section. Guitarist Ron Samworth's psychedelic 12-string provides sanguine lift to the euphoric "Little Pieces," while guitarist Tony Wilson's Kwela-inspired fretwork similarly elevates the buoyant mood of "Warming." Electric bassist Andre Lachance offers a resilient foundation for Lee's husband, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, whose multicolored percussion introduces the impressionistic "Chorale." Lee plays a magnanimous role as bandleader, soloing infrequently but effectively, as on "Not So Far," where her sinewy, expressionistic arco takes center stage.
Lee's abilities as an arranger are revealed on a beautiful instrumental cover of vocalist and regular collaborator Mary Margaret O'Hara's lush "You Will Be Loved Again." Bolstered by the empathetic interpretations of her stellar sidemen, Invitation is a compelling, multilayered statement from an artist on the rise, confirming Lee's earlier efforts alongside trumpeter Dave Douglas, guitarist Bill Frisell and keyboardist Wayne Horvitz as the beginning of a long and fruitful career.
Invitation; Why Are You Yelling?; Your Grace; Chorale; Path Of A Smile; Not So Far; Little Pieces; You Will Be Loved Again; Punchy; End Waltz; Warming.
Peggy Lee: cello; Brad Turner: trumpet and flugelhorn; Jon Bentley: tenor saxophone; Jeremy Berkham: trombone; Ron Samworth: electric, acoustic and 12-string guitars; Tony Wilson: electric guitar; Andre Lachance: electric bass; Dylan van der Schyff: drums and percussion.