The very title of the album suggests quality, and that's what you get here. Peggy plundered the Great American Songbook as usual (often selecting obscure but high quality songs), adding a couple of her own songs (Where can I go without you? and I didn't find love).
Peggy was, of course, in her element on the slow, seductive songs which were her trademark - just listen to her cover of Days of wine and roses - and which make up most of this album, but what really makes this album sparkle is the variation in pace. For example, on The lady is a tramp, Peggy went uptempo, not by dramatically raising her voice (that wasn't her style), but by singing more quickly than usual. The musicianship throughout the album is masterful, yet always secondary to Peggy's lovely voice.
This is a classy album by a classy singer who is sadly missed, but who has left an outstanding legacy in the form of a whole series of brilliant albums. I believe this is the best of the lot, but not by much - there are many others which are close behind. If you haven't got any of Peggy's music, this is a great place to start - but after hearing this, you will surely be tempted to buy more.
on 6 May 2007
I'm crazy about "Mink Jazz". It's the kind of album you hope a singer is going to make - great songs, impeccably singing, terrific backing. I'd imagine most people tend to think of Peggy Lee in a string/brass setting, but it's on this record that you really hear her in her element as a musician. Possessed of a low-key, intimate delivery, Peggy worked best (in my opinion at least) with a smallish combo, and that's what we have here, a group of the West Coast's finest aiding and abetting Peggy in her oh-so-cool renditions. Great songs, too: I fell in love with "Whisper Not" (can anyone swing as subtly as Peggy?), "Cloudy Morning" (gorgeous ballad) and really jumping versions of "As Long As I Live" and "I Won't Dance".
Grandiose as it may sound, I think this album encapsulates everything Peggy Lee brought to jazz/pop singing. It's a classic.
Peggy Lee has that rare ability- to say or rather suggest a feeling or idea, by doing less. Her vocal style is intimate, able to suggest vulnerability, desire, and a sharp wit but always with the minimum of fireworks and never a hint of affectation. When singing, she is all about mood and meaning. So whether she is praising her paramour as in ‘I Could Write A Book’ or effecting a reconciliation, ‘Whisper Not’, the listener is no doubt as what emotion is being conveyed and how we are meant to feel.
‘Mink Jazz’ is a superb representation of Ms Lee’s art- from torch songs, to swingers and Latin style novelties, she covers all the bases. Her backing group are as good as it gets and the arrangements by Benny Carter allow some solos and some interesting musical back drops to be created. If I had to pick out the cream of this album (a difficult job) - a lovely version of ‘Days of Wine and Roses’ is probably as good as anything that Ms Lee ever released. That is saying something. The remastering is first rate and the sleevenotes suitably adoring. Bonus tracks are rather good, especially ‘I’ll Get By’ (with a superb solo from pianist Bob Corwin) and ‘Please Don’t Rush Me’. Highly recommended.