Peggy Lee The Peggy Lee Band

Not to be confused with the composer of "Fever," Canada's Peggy Lee is the West Coast cello player whose inventive playing has been generating an international buzz. Her debut CD as a leader has been well worth the wait, because it's a real beauty. Lee combines versatility with a glorious singing tone in melodies like "Message To Little Shoe" and the euphoric "Walk Home." She blends brilliantly with Tony Wilson (guitar), Chris Tarry (bass), Dylan van der Schyff's atmospheric mallet work and brass players Jeremy Berkman (trombone) and Brad Turner (flugelhorn/trumpet), who create a perfect gravitational field as she floats, soars or glides into unison statements like the climactic finales of "Fossil" and "Under The Dock." There is plenty of solo space for Lee's bandmates: Berkman drives "Monkey Puzzle" and "Big Top" with a manic energy matched by Turner, who also impresses in the ravishing ballad "Long Beach" and the exciting "Under The Dock." The lovely balance between formal composition and free expression is summed up by "Two Stories," the compelling variations explored in "Under The Dock" and the transformation of "Fossil" from a microtonal fractal freescape into a driving circular vamp. This already numbers among the best music of the past year. (Spool)