Peggy Lee: The Queen of Cool
Show promo here
“ I’ve known about Peggy Lee the songwriter for some time but it wasn’t until I read James Gavin’s biography that I truly became infatuated by her story. The woman behind the sophisticated and glamorous persona is a story worth telling. It brings to life the underlying reasons why she choose many of her most famous songs”.
The playlist is impeccable. Hard-core Peggy Lee fans cannot complain about repertoire choice, presentation or musical style as Brigitte Baden-Rennie (beautifully accompanied by Dave McEvoy on keyboard and Jenna Bonavita on acoustic double bass) performs her intelligent and entertaining homage to the great jazz/pop vocal stylist.
Baden-Rennie sings seventeen songs, some written by Lee, all sung by Lee, and some of them not very well-known, except to rusted-on Lee enthusiasts. Yes, she sings Fever. And Black Coffee and Is That All There Is? But Baden-Rennie has researched thoroughly and includes a number of obscure Peggy Lee numbers too. She intersperses songs with biographical material about the singer, her origins, her career of six decades, and her personal life. This wealth of material helps to contextualise the songs; her acting skill keeps this information lively and interesting.
Dressed in flowing full-length black, only relieved by a gold brooch and necklace, Baden-Rennie’s tall frame dominates the room. She makes no attempt to look like Peggy Lee, or to copy her vocal tone. Baden-Rennie’s own rich voice strays further south than Lee’s, but her timbre is ideal for the Lee playlist, and her musicianship recreates the Lee “feel” to each song.
Bass and keyboard accompany her voice with balance and sensitivity. In the slower, blues-based numbers, they play with restraint, but in the more up-tempo songs, they add verve and smart jazz licks. There was great cross-phrasing on a driving version of It’s Alright With Me, and Ellington’s chromatically demanding I’m Gonna Go Fishin’.. . . . the spirit of Peggy Lee is honoured in this elegant performance, and the sound of Baden-Rennie’s emotionally raw performance of When The World Was Young (Gérard/Mercer) will haunt you for some time to come.
Reviewed by Pat. H. Wilson
Setting a cruisy, sunset dinner show in the National Wine Centre was a stroke of genius on the part of UK-based Australian singer, Brigitte Baden-Rennie.
Her homage to Peggy Lee, the sultry singer, songwriter, composer and actor of renown in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, is a delicious accompaniment to the beautifully spacious and artistic setting.
With a singing and recording career spanning six decades (from 1941 – 1995) Peggy Lee was one of the most famous and accomplished female jazz singers of her time. Working with greats like Benny Goodman, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, she also co-wrote and sang He’s A Tramp, the hit song from Disney’s animated film Lady And The Tramp (1956) and recorded four of the character voices on the film. In the 1980s, when the film was released on video and she was not paid any royalties, she took Disney to court and won.
Brigitte Baden-Rennie doesn’t try to imitate Peggy Lee but performs the many and varied numbers in her own understated and easy style. She is a warm and witty host, who serves up a rich collection of Peggy’s songs, with a tantalising side-serve of titbits about the very talented woman and her colourful life.
Accompanied on piano by the ever-fabulous Dave McEvoy with the delicious Jenna Bonavita on double bass, the menu is rich, tasteful and fun. There are well-remembered classics like Nice Work If You Can Get It, A Good Day From Morning To Night, I’m A Woman, Black Coffee, and Is That All There Is? and many more. Arguably, Lee’s most memorable hit, Fever is one of the only songs that can be sung delightfully to the unmistakable bass line accompanied only by finger snaps.
This is a lovely show about a talented and interesting woman, played with grace and expertise by Brigitte Baden-Rennie and her very tasteful duo.
Fans of Peggy Lee and beautiful, jazz-based musical excellence will love this show and appreciate just how prolific Lee’s career was.
Peggy Lee & Friends
A swinging concert show of great songs and stories with The Mosaic Cat Band.
Brigitte is joined in the UK by 2013 Entertainment Award winner, Jason Allen for “Peggy Lee & Friends”.
Songs: Waiting for the train to come in; Why don’t you do right?; Don’t smoke in bed; Caramba. It’s The Samba; Black Coffee; I don’t know enough about you; Nice work if you can get it and more.