October 2005

Peggy Lee Band
Worlds Apart

Cellist Peggy Lee's latest fuses jazz with folk-ish and rock-ish elements, adding tinctures of free improv and classical tossed in for seasoning. It's an appetizing mix, played by a band-Brad Turner, trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn; Jeremy Berkman, trombone; Lee, cello; Tony Wilson, guitars; Andre Lechance, basses; Dylan van der Schyff, drums; Ron Samworth, guitars-that balances the right amount of exactitude and looseness.

Minimalism has long been a fertile area for composers with a jazz-fusion orientation. Repetitive, evolving figures behind soloists go back a long way, but it took the marriage between jazz and rock to exploit the techniques to best advantage. Lee does it well on tunes like "Beekeeper's Club," whereupon a mixed-meter ostinato builds behind guitar and trumpet solos, creating something like an aural travelogue-like watching a fascinating landscape pass by your window on a cross-country drive. The soloists are fine, yet it's the splendid compositions and the way they're interpreted by the collective that counts. Lee is fast becoming one of my favorite contemporary musicians. More, please.

Originally published in October 2005

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