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Date 1 July 2005 at 8pm Venue The Ironworks

Reviewer John Jane

Logo Peggy Lee


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Vancouver International Jazz Festival 2005

It’s a rare, perhaps even unique experience to come across a jazz sextet led by a female cellist. The Peggy Lee Band is also unusual for another reason: three stringed instruments plus two brass and percussion give the 'ensemble' a sublime sound that combines elements of improvisational jazz, chamber music, and even progressive rock.

Lee’s compositions, which can be abstract and occasionally border on psychedelia, were accessibly arranged for her sextet featuring trumpeter Brad Turner, trombonist Jeremy Berkman, electric guitarist Ron Samworth, bassist André Lachance, and percussionist Dylan van der Schyff. Some of these pieces incorporating brass and strings draw obvious comparisons with the inimitable Kenny Wheeler. Others, for example, the last tune in the set, a minor chord pastoral piece entitled Walk Home was reminiscent of Ralph Towner and Paul McCandless (formerly Oregon).

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Possibly because she shares her name with the late popular song stylist, people readily expect Peggy Lee to sing. If this talent is available to her, it wasn’t evident at the Canada Day performance at the Ironworks. Aside from a couple of brief announcements, the audience hardly got to hear her voice at all. Having little to offer in the way of stage presence, she seemed quite disposed to allow her trumpet player, Brad Turner, to take centre stage.

Cellist Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee

Turner’s trumpet playing was featured early in the set to jaw-dropping effect on Long Beach, a gritty, urban-bluesy tune that juxtaposed the band's progressive elements.

What can you say about Dylan van der Schyff? The South African drummer is both leader and follower. On the avant-garde Sounds from the Big House van der Schyff’s understated expansive percussion served to compliment his leader’s inspired sonic explorations.

Vancouver-based Peggy Lee is a proven virtuoso cellist and regarded as one of Canada’s leading jazz improvisers. Thanks again to the Vancouver International Jazz Festival for providing jazz enthusiasts with an opportunity to see first rate musicians for as little as twelve dollars.

2005 John Jane

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