Peggy Lee: Things Are Swingin’

Two-minute tracks leave little space for the top jazz soloists present but the singer supplies ample invention in these 1958 recordings

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Riding high as a popular vocalist of exceptional talent, Peggy Lee recorded a string of successful LP albums and numerous singles through the 50s. Things Are Swingin’ is a typical example, and an ideal addition to the Supper Club series. Her cool, chic persona permeated her sensitive interpretation of lyrics, carefully nuanced expression cleverly conveying underlying emotion and one-to-one intimacy.

Though ballads were perhaps her forte, she had acquired in her earlier years with Benny Goodman the experience and rhythmic ease to swing out in a more upbeat style. This album, styled for the broad, popular music market of the 50s, is enlivened by some added pep from brief, vigorous Basie-style section fills.

The tracks are all short, a little over two minutes on average, regrettably leaving scant solo spaces for some top jazz musicians in the ranks. However it’s Peggy’s show, and she needs no help in impressing on every track, transforming even the run-of-the-mill compositions with her interpretations. Her finely tuned timing is a delight in tracks such as Riding High, I’m Beginning To See The Light, Just In Time and particularly in her smash hit Fever (with superb drumming from Shelly Manne) which was not used on the original LP, but issued as a single.

There are seven bonus tracks in all, including two with the glossy Nelson Riddle Orchestra, and three very good later recordings with Jack Marshall’s Orchestra, featuring some colourful jazz-styled backing.

Bridging the divide between pop and jazz with ease, like Ella, Peggy Lee was not only a versatile and outstanding vocal stylist, but also an accomplished songwriter, composer and film actress. This very enjoyable album contains all the trademark qualities of a gifted artist in her prime.


Discography
(1) It’s A Wonderful World; Things Are Swingin’; Alright, Okay, You Win; Ridin’ High; It’s Been A Long, Long Time; Lullaby In Rhythm; Alone Together; I’m Beginning To See The Light; It’s A Good, Good Night; You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me; (22.20) – You’re Mine, You; Life Is For Livin’; (2) You Don’t Know; Fever; (3) Ain’t We Got Fun; Just In Time; (4) I Love To Love; So In Love; Till There Was You (23.17)
Lee (v) with:
(1) Jack Marshall Orch. Don Fagerquist, Conrad Gozzo, Manny Klein (t); Milt Bernhart (tb); Bob Envoldsen (vtb); Justin Gordon, George Smith (reeds); Joe Harnell (p); Howard Roberts (g); Joe Mondragon (b); Shelly Manne (d). Hollywood, 19, 25 & 27 May 1958.
(2) as (1). Bonus tracks.
(3) Nelson Riddle Orchestra. Hollywood, 5 & 20 December 1957; 3 January 1958.
(4) Jack Marshall Orch. Personnel includes Pete Candoli, Jack Sheldon (t); Milt Bernhart, Frank Rosolino (tb); Benny Carter (as); Jimmy Rowles (p); Barney Kessel (g); Shelly Manne (d). Hollywood, 17, 19 & 22 October 1958.
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