The Peggy Lee Band
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The Peggy Lee Band

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"Going With the Flow (New York Times)"

The Canadian cellist, not the American singer, Peggy Lee has an eight-piece band that sounds like jazz, and then rock, and then a kind of chamber-music pastoralia, always flowing organically from one thing to the next. It’s made by collective improvisation, with lots of friction and jostle among the guitars and saxophones and brass and drums, but the Peggy Lee Band’s latest album, “New Code” (Drip Audio), isn’t aggressive; it’s full of pop melodies (including Bob Dylan’s “All I Really Want to Do,” Kurt Weill’s “Lost in the Stars” and plenty of Ms. Lee’s own), pretty drones and subtle shifts of arrangement brought on by Ms. Lee’s cues. - Ben Ratliff - The New York Times (Nov. 28, 2008)


"New Code Review (Hour)"

A delightful, playful tension between structure and chaos is set up on the opening track of the Peggy Lee Band's latest recording, as the melody of Bob Dylan's All I Really Want to Do is gradually broken apart, while on the second piece, a Lee composition, the structure emerges as the individual musicians come in one by one until the melody takes shape. Of course, the dialectic between composition and improvisation is inherent in all improvising ensembles, but here it is in the forefront, to the benefit of music produced by Vancouver cellist Lee and a stellar group of improvisers that includes drummer Dylan van der Schyff and guitarists Ron Samworth and Tony Wilson. From Dylan to Kurt Weill, from harsh dissonance to gentle lyricism, the music lies between the pull of influence and inspiration. - Mike Chamberlain - Hour (Montreal)


"New Code Review (FFWD)"

This is what happens when you take some of the finest musicians on the West Coast and give them room to fully improvise. Cellist Peggy Lee’s career, which hit a major crossroads in the 1990s thanks to improvisational projects with Talking Pictures and the Now Orchestra, is right on track with this new release. Lee is a musician drawing on the full range of her interests and ad hoc collaborations. No surprise, then, that her newest release for Drip Audio, a label known for its ad hoc partnerings of musicians, is dynamic. With New Code, Lee is joined by the likes of horn man Brad Turner, percussionist Dylan van der Schyff and tenor sax man John Bentley. The CD begins and ends with lush full-band arrangements, but the mid-section quickly moves into improvisational sound experiments ranging from the three-part “Off Shoot” through to the wave-like, hypnotic “Floating Island,” and a few compositions featuring gritty and frenetic horn, string and percussion exchanges. - Dennis Slater - FFWD (Calgary)


"New Code (Down Beat - March 2009)"

"...a new CD that exemplifies the strength and maturity of the Vancouver jazz and improvised music scene. Decades of development have led them to the fluidity of this amalgam, which moves without stress from orchestration to fragmentation and back." - John Corbett - Down Beat (4 1/2 **** stars) - Down Beat


"Destination Out (Exclaim!)"

This release marks a new phase in this long running band’s existence — they’ve grown horns. Now blessed with trumpet, trombone and sax, as well as two guitarists, the Peggy Lee Band have many more options to create the precise colours necessary to bring Lee’s exacting music to life. More often than not, the horns are treated strictly as ensemble instruments rather than a set of frontline soloists. At times, they seem more like keyboards in the way they’re used. Lee shows her leadership skills more as a composer than as a player who takes a solo on every track. Compositions, even within the three free improv “Offshoot” tracks, are carefully un-spooled. Her production, aided by drummer Dylan Van Der Schyff, is improving steadily; her albums used to sound totally austere but now there’s ample warmth. Case in point is “Scribble Town,” which would’ve been impossible to do justice to without two guitars, Lee’s cello and bass providing spiky yet lush scribbles. I could have done without the Pollyanna-ish cover of Bob Dylan’s “All I Want To Do” but the more melancholy and math-y the better for this increasingly interesting band. - David Dacks (Drip Audio) - Exclaim!


"New Code Review (Left Hip)"

Another exceptional jazz album from The Peggy Lee Band featuring an all-star cast of top Vancouver jazz players. Opening with a wonderful arrangement of Bob Dylan’s All I Really Want To Do, the album features a mix of seven composed pieces and 3 free improvised tracks. Playing is exquisite throughout, with a mix of beautiful yet cutting edge melodic sensibilities, classic trad jazz playing and some unhindered skronk thrown in of course for good measure, they are form Vancouver, after all.
Too many cooks aren’t spoiling the broth here - though the band has expanded from a sextet up to an octet everyone still seems to have lots of room to stretch and show off while not overrunning the compositions with shredding. Players this time out include Ron Samworth and Tony Wilson on guitar, Brad Turner on trumpet, Jon Bentley on tenor, Jeremy Berkman on trombone, Peggy Lee of course of cello, André Lachance on bass Dylan van der Schyff on drums. No one can be singled out - these are all great players.
Another great album for the Peggy Lee Band, and yet another great showcase for the Vancouver jazz scene. Featuring nice artwork by Andy Dixon, this Drip Audio release is yet another choice release from what’s surely and steadily becoming one of the go-to labels for forward-thinking jazz. - Gordon B. Isnor - Left Hip Magazine


"New Code review (Panpot)"

"Beautifully abstract, and magnificently composed...one of the finest Canadian jazz releases of the year." - Eric Theriault - Panpot


"freak-outs and float-aways (Tokafi)"

"Oscillating between anthemic swells and pussyfooting tenderness, between implied outbursts and suspenseful restraint, it seems to begin by accident and to never really come to a conclusion while keeping the listener firmly glued to his or her seat. The joys of discovery, the pleasures of surprise and the excitement of following an uncompromising cast of artists to a place uniquely their own." - Tobias Fischer - Tokafi.com


"New Code Review (Foxy Digitalis)"

"I'll have to add The Peggy Lee Band to my list of new jazz bands still doing things in honest and inventive ways- keeping that innovative spirit alive. This is really sophisticated and joyful stuff that appeals to me on multiple levels. I have an immediate gut reaction to the melodic shifts in energy, but there's also a level of focus displayed by the musicians that really draws me in on a deeper level." - Charles Franklin - digitalisindustries.com (USA)


"New Code Review (Paris Transatlantic)"

"Cellist Peggy Lee is a crack free improviser from Vancouver (see her work with Carlos Zingaro and John Butcher, in particular), but the previous CDs by her band gravitated towards compositions with a twangy/dreamy neo-Frisellian sound. For this disc the band (formerly a sextet) has expanded to eight members, and the music has become altogether more individual, pulling together dark, droning mise-en-abyme constructions and haunted melodies bathed in reverbed guitar and yearning horn-charts... she creates textures you can get lost in, colours and shapes that bleed into each other, an atmosphere of slow-motion weirdness heavy with desire and stray thoughts, like those in-between moments where you're still heavy with dream as you surface into waking life." - Nate Dorward - Paris Transatlantic Magazine (Paris, France)


Discography

The Peggy Lee Band (Spool)
The Peggy Lee Band - Songs From The Big House (Spool)
The Peggy Lee Band - Worlds Apart (Spool)
The Peggy Lee Band - New Code (Drip Audio)
*all full length albums

Photos

Bio

The Peggy Lee Band was formed in 1998 as a vehicle to explore different strategies of improvisation within the context of Peggy’s compositions. Although initially formed as a sextet, Peggy decided to expand the group in 2007 by adding tenor saxophone and another electric guitar. This is a group in which the unique contribution of each player is crucial to the ensemble’s overall sound. The sextet has released three cd’s on the Spool label and has toured nationally and internationally. “New Code” is the fourth release by The Peggy Lee Band and the first that sees the band expanded from a sextet to an octet. Vancouver-based cellist Peggy Lee plays the field between jazz and new music, currently receiving international recognition as one of Vancouver's finest improvisers.