Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Peggy King and the All-Star Jazz Trio: Songs A La King

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

For a while in the 1950s, stardom seemed likely for “pretty, perky Peggy King” (the sobriquet, which stuck, supplied by her onetime boss, comedian George Gobel). She sang with the Charlie Spivak and Ralph Flanagan orchestras, steadily worked TV’s variety circuit, appeared in a few movies and recorded for Columbia. But King, vocally a pleasant if workaday pastiche of Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds, never quite clicked. She married a formalwear magnate and retired to Philadelphia, returning briefly in the 1980s for two albums for the Stash label.

Then, two years ago, King, age 84, was introduced to Philly’s longstanding All-Star Jazz Trio: pianist Andy Kahn, bassist Bruce Kaminsky and drummer Bruce Klauber. And … click. She gigged with the trio for a while, finally agreeing early last year to lay down 16 tracks in Kahn’s private studio (plus one bonus track, recorded separately).

Her range is understandably diminished, her vibrato a bit shaky. Yet maturity has transformed her style from chirpily pert to warmly sophisticated and alluringly smoky. King and company stick almost exclusively to standards, equally winning when exploring the tender folds of “Nobody’s Heart,” the vengeful bleat of “Cry Me a River” or the bright bounce of “Let’s Fall in Love.” (Their sultry reworking of “How About You?” is a particular highlight.) Only once do they stray, to revisit King’s minor hit, “Any Questions?,” introduced in a 1955 episode of Dragnet.

Purchase this issue from Barnes & Noble or Apple Newsstand. Print and digital subscriptions are also available.

Originally Published