Peggy Lee's Bio-Discography:
The MusicMasters And Harbinger Contracts (1988-1990)
by Iván Santiago-Mercado

Generated on Feb 26, 2016


Peggy Lee's Recording Career, 1988-1990

For three consecutive years (1988, 1989, and 1990), the New Jersey-based independent company MusicMasters was Peggy Lee's recording home. The first two years generated one album each; the last year resulted in a holiday cassingle. In 1988, Lee also recorded a special album project for another independent label, the New York-based Harbinger Records. Further specifics about her association with both labels can be found in this page's final note and, of course, in the session notes below. (Side notes: For details about any release of Peggy Lee's original MusicMasters and Harbinger albums outside of the United States, consult this discography's foreign issues page. Looking for CD recommendations? Throughout this discography, recommended items are highlighted by my use of bold uppercase on their titles. As for the blue arrowheads periodically found next to some albums, click on them and you will see additional albums which contain the same Peggy Lee performance.)


Date: February 1988
Location: Clinton Sound Studios, 653 10th Avenue (between 46th and 10th), New York
Label: MUSICMASTERS/Amreco

Peggy Lee (ldr), Gregory K. Squires (pdr), Bill Kipper, Andrew Milano (eng), John Chiodini (g), Jay Leonhart (b), Mike Renzi (p), Grady Tate (d), Mark Sherman (per), Peggy Lee (v)

a. Master Take (MusicMasters) See See Rider - 5:06(Traditional) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
b. Master Take (MusicMasters) Basin Street Blues - 3:10(Spencer Williams) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
c. Master Take (MusicMasters) Squeeze Me - 2:47(Thomas 'Fats' Waller, Clarence Williams, possibly Andy Razaf) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
d. Master Take (MusicMasters) You Don't Know - 4:09(Walter Spriggs) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
MUSICMASTERS/Amreco CD65064 2 — [Various Artists] MusicMasters Jazz Sampler    (1989)
e. Master Take (MusicMasters) Fine And Mellow - 5:13(Billie Holiday) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
f. Master Take (MusicMasters) Baby, Won't You Please Come Home - 3:25(Charles Warfield, Clarence Williams) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
g. Master Take (MusicMasters) Kansas City - 3:43(Mike Stoller, Jerry Leiber) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
h. Master Take (MusicMasters) Birmingham Jail - 4:15(Traditional) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
i. Master Take (MusicMasters) Love Me - 4:10(Joe McCoy) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
j. Master Take (MusicMasters) Beale Street Blues - 2:52(W. C. Handy) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
k. Master Take (MusicMasters) Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do - 5:45(Porter Grainger, Robert Graham Prince, Clarence Williams) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
MUSICMASTERS' The Jazz Foundations CDD 126466 — Prime Time; Giants Of Jazz In Their Prime   (1999)
l. Master Take (MusicMasters) God Bless The Child - 3:14(Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog, Jr.) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
All titles on: MUSICMASTERS/Amreco CS/LP/CDCijd 40155h/20155k/60155f//2ndPressing:5005 4c/5005/5005 2c — Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues    (1988)
Musical Heritage Society/Amreco CS/CDMhc 312487x / Mhs 512487m — Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues   (1990)
Jazz Heritage Society/Amerco CD5124878 — MISS PEGGY LEE SINGS THE BLUES [K2 Laser Cutting Remaster]   (2002)


The Recording Session(s)

In early February 1988, Peggy Lee came to New York for a two-week engagement at The Ballroom. Her engagement was so successful that it was extended for three additional weeks. "We had two days off at The Ballroom and I just brought the musicians over the recording studio and we did [this album]," Peggy Lee told Fred Hall in a 1990 interview. The album to which she was referring was Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues, whose masters are listed in this session. Guitarist John Chiodini told biographer Peter Richmond that he was actually the one who had "encouraged [Lee] to do an album devoted entirely to the blues, for the MusicMasters label."

During the aforementioned oral interview with Fred Hall, Peggy Lee also pointed out: "no rehearsals -- any. That is true jazz; they didn't -- there was no rehearsals. All of those things they had in mind, like let's do a doo dah dah dah ...[...] ... [such spontaneous ideas would] set off a whole chain of things they'd play. [The album] sounds almost as if it has been arranged just right there."


Dating

The exact dates on which Peggy Lee recorded the material included in Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues are unknown to me. The approximate dating that I have entered herein is based partly on information gleaned from various periodicals and partly on data drawn from two other sources (an oral interview, some album outtakes). Specifics are discussed in the next paragraphs.

On Sunday, January 31, 1988, a Newsday article reported that Peggy Lee was "recording an album this weekend, for MusicMasters." Two days later (February 2, 1988), a New York Post article quoted Lee as having said that "[I] will do part of it before I'm in the Ballroom, and the rest after."

Lee's engagement at The Ballroom started on the very evening of the second article's publication (February 2). As for the last scheduled day of the two-week engagement, it was Saturday, February 13.

If the plans that Lee had shared with the press were carried out, then the recording dates can be pinpointed with only a small margin of error. The earlier sessions would have taken place during the last weekend of January (i.e., between Friday the 28th and Sunday the 31st). The later sessions would have happened in mid-February, possibly Sunday the 14th and Monday the 15th.

But even the best laid plans can go awry. For one, and as already mentioned, Lee's engagement was extended for three more weeks. Since the decision to extend it was presumably made after Lee had already performed for a few days, the pre-engagement quotes that she made to the press do not reflect this change of schedule, which might have caused in turn a re-schedule of the recording sessions. Second, the session(s) planned for the pre-engagement period could have been postponed: in the pre-engagement articles, the reporters and the singer make references to some diabetes-related difficulties that Lee was having.

Third, the date of one of Lee's 1988 MusicMasters sessions is actually known: on Monday, February 8, 1988, she recorded at least a couple of numbers, both of them album outtakes. (See next session.) It stands to reason that some of the songs included in the album were recorded on that same date, but it is not known which ones, nor how many.

In the aforementioned 1990 interview, conducted by radio broadcaster Fred Hall, Lee states that the album was done in just two days. If her recollection is completely accurate, and if we factor in the outtakes' date, the correct recording dates for all of these masters could be February 7 and 8 or February 8 and 9, 1988.

Be it as it may, and due to the absence of more specific information, I have chosen to enter a safer, more general and encompassing dating: February 1988.


Personnel

1. Gregory K. Squires
2. Andrew Milano
A fair number of MusicMasters CDs list George K. Squires as part of their sessions' personnel. Usually he is identified as the record engineer, but in the case of Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues he is credited as the producer. (The mastering of the album is credited to Bill Kipper at Masterdisk Corp.) Squires' website indeed describes him as both a producer and engineer who majored in French horn and who is a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music.

A September 1989 Audio magazine review of the album states that "[t]he sound has been beautifully recorded at New york City's Clinton Sound by the uncredited Andrew Milano. Produced by George K. Squires ..."


Masters And Labels

1. Amreco
2. Amerco
All issues from the Musical Heritage family of labels bear two company ownership credits, one for the label itself and another for a company that, curiously, seems to have changed its name. For further details, see notes under session dated November 1-3, 1989.


Issues

1. The Album Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues At The Grammys
Held on February 22, 1989, the 31st Grammy Awards ceremony found Peggy Lee's name back in the category of Best [Jazz] Vocal Performance, Female, after twenty years of absence. The nomination was for the album Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues. Her fellow nominees were Betty Carter, Lena Horne, Rickie Lee Jones and Carmen McRae. The winner was Carter, for her album Look What I Got!. Lee's next nomination would take place on the following year; see session dated November 1-3, 1989.

2. The Correct Album Title
The album actually has two valid titles: Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues and, more simply, Peggy Sings The Blues. The reason why both titles are valid is that they are jointly used in most configurations of the album. More specifically, these issues shows the title Peggy Sings The Blues in the front cover, but the variant Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues inside, in the actual disc and tape. (As for the spine of the cassette, it uses the Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues variant.)

3. The Correct Release Date Of Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues [CD]
The compact disc edition of Peggy Sings The Blues was originally released in November 1988 or a bit earlier, as proven by articles that were published that year, and backed by a couple of record guides published in subsequent years. Although most of the aforementioned reviews make no reference to the configurations in which the album was originally released, I believe that all three (LP, cassette, CD) were simultaneously available from the start. (Actually, I do have what I believe to be an advance review of the CD. It dates from September 1988).

However, the CD is given a 1989 release date in a few record guides. Presumably, such a dating points to a second pressing or, otherwise, is erroneous. (Since November 1988 is close enough to 1989, there is also the possibility that those record guides are listing the release date of the album outside of the United States.

In any case, 1988 is the copyright and sound recording copyright year given in all configurations of the album. I have thus chosen to give a 1988 date to the original release.

4. MusicMasters' Various Pressings of Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues
The album under discussion has gone through a fair amount of pressings and reissues, starting with those on the releasing label, MusicMasters (LP, CD, cassette).

In 1990, MusicMasters' parent company, Musical Heritage, reissued the album in two configurations (CD and cassette). This reissue sports a cover different from the original one on Musicmasters. Lee wears the same coiffure but a different attire. The photographer is Hans Albers on both cases, and the year is 1988. Musical Heritage uses black and white, not color.

MusicMasters' sister label, Jazz Heritage, reissued the album in 2002, in superior sound quality. Although Jazz Heritage is clearly identified as the releasing company in the front and back covers, the disc itself bears only the Musical Heritage logo and copyright. The front cover photo is the same one as in the original MusicMasters issue, with a few minor differences. (For one, it has been darkened.)

Curiously, different shots from the same photo session were used for the front covers of the 1990 Musical Heritage CD and cassette. The CD's photo shows Lee from the waist up, and was taken at a greater distance, from a higher angle. Furthermore, the CD's photo makes it clearer that Lee is sitting on a chair.

To see the above-discussed covers, check this discography's photo gallery for Late Period albums.

5. Re-pressings Of Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues
A new catalogue number was assigned to MusicMasters' own 1992 re-pressing of the original 1988 album.

There has also been at least one licensee's pressing, which bears two catalogue numbers. The first of the two numbers is among those listed above (5005-2-C). The other catalogue number, D 143661, is accompanied by the legend "Mfd. for BMG Direct Marketing, Inc. under License," etc.

In a record guide, I have come across yet another catalogue number (820809) for the MusicMasters CD. This number is linked to S&R, which I presume to be another licensee, or perhaps a distributor.

Although those are the only pressings of which I am fully aware, I do not discard the possibility of others, which could bear entirely different catalogue numbers.

6. Foreign Versions Of Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues
Of course, there have also been non-USA pressings of this original MusicMasters albums, on labels such as Limelight, Polygram, and Phonogram. For a listing of those, consult this discography's Miscellanea section, specifically this page and this page.

7. MusicMasters' Technology
The Musical Heritage family of labels took pride in its use of innovative aural technology for its original recordings. Both of Lee's albums for MusicMasters bear legends pointing to a technological bent; they are called "[full] digital" recordings. Meanwhile, the cassettes are labeled "chrome" or "compatible chrome." Moreover, the album's 2002 CD edition on Jazz Heritage is a remastering for which "K2 technology" was used.

This concern with up-to-date technology dates back to the company's early dates and is probably an offshoot of an audiophile orientation among classically minded fans. In 1971, the Musical Heritage Society was being listed among the international leaders in using Dolby noise reduction technology for their cassettes of classical music. Earlier in the same year, Musical Heritage's decision to use TDK Super Dynamic tape had put the label in the news, too.


Collectors' Corner

1. Different Album Covers On MusicMasters And Musical Heritage
The respective Musicmasters and Musical Heritage CD editions of Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues sport different photos of Lee. Read details above, under Issues, point #4.


Date: February 8, 1988
Location: Clinton Sound Studios, 653 10th Avenue (between 46th and 10th), New York
Label: MUSICMASTERS/Amreco

Peggy Lee (ldr), Gregory K. Squires (pdr), John Chiodini (g), Jay Leonhart (b), Mike Renzi (p), Grady Tate (d), Mark Sherman (per), Peggy Lee (v)

a. Master Take (MusicMasters) Since I Fell For You - 2:42(Woodrow "Buddy" Johnson) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
b. Master Take (MusicMasters) How Long Has This Been Going On? - 3:06(George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
Both titles unissued.


Songs

These two vocals are outtakes from the Miss Peggy Lee Sings The Blues sessions.


Date: August 29 - September 2, 1988
Location: Clinton Sound Studios, 653 10th Avenue (between 46th and 10th), New York
Label: HARBINGER

Peggy Lee (ldr), Ken Bloom, Bill Rudman (pdr), Keith Ingham (pdr, con, p), Tim Martyn, Andrew Milano (eng), Phil Bodner (f, as), Ken Peplowski (ts), Glenn Zottola (t, fh), George Masso (tb), John Chiodini (g), Jay Leonhart (b), Mark Sherman (vib, per), Grady Tate (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. Master Take (Harbinger) Look Who's Been Dreaming - 2:35(Harold Arlen, Dorothy Fields) / arr: Keith Ingham
b. Master Take (Harbinger) Love Held Lightly - 4:12(Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer) / arr: Keith Ingham
c. Master Take (Harbinger) Buds Won't Bud - 3:24(Harold Arlen, Erwin 'Yip' Harburg) / arr: Keith Ingham
d. Master Take (Harbinger) Can You Explain? - 3:34(Truman Capote, Harold Arlen) / arr: Keith Ingham
e. Master Take (Harbinger) Wait'll It Happens To You - 2:26(Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer) / arr: Keith Ingham
f. Master Take (Harbinger) Come On, Midnight - 4:33(Martin Charnin, Harold Arlen) / arr: Keith Ingham
g. Master Take (Harbinger) Happy With The Blues - 4:18(Harold Arlen, Peggy Lee) / arr: Keith Ingham
h. Master Take (Harbinger) Bad For Each Other - 3:21(Carolyn Leigh, Harold Arlen) / arr: Keith Ingham
i. Master Take (Harbinger) Love's No Stranger To Me - 2:46(Harold Arlen, Truman Capote) / arr: Keith Ingham
j. Master Take (Harbinger) I Could Be Good For You - 2:36(Martin Charnin, Harold Arlen) / arr: Keith Ingham
k. Master Take (Harbinger) Got To Wear You Off My Weary Mind - 4:06(Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer) / arr: Keith Ingham
l. Master Take (Harbinger) I Had A Love Once - 2:40(Harold Arlen) / arr: Keith Ingham
m. Master Take (Harbinger) Love's A Necessary Thing - 3:31(Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler) / arr: Keith Ingham
n. Master Take (Harbinger) My Shining Hour - 2:30(Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen) / arr: Keith Ingham
All titles on: CAPITOL's Angel CS/CD4 Ds/CDs 0777 7 54798 — Love Held Lightly; Rare Songs By Harold Arlen   (1993)
HARBINGER CDHcd 632433 2401 2 0 — LOVE HELD LIGHTLY; RARE SONGS BY HAROLD ARLEN   (2006)


The Recording Session

After going through a couple of rehearsals at her home in California (with producers Ken Bloom and Bill Rudman, along with their favored pianist Keith Ingham), Peggy Lee came to New York to record the above-listed masters. "She came scrupulously prepared," Rudman told biographer Peter Richmond. Relying on his conversations with the producer, Richmond adds that at the dates Lee was "[b]y and large ... the essence of professionalism."

Lee is known to have had at least one argument with Ingham. The specifics are vague; one of the pianist's arrangements or performances was apparently the source of the difference. According to Richmond, a musician present at the date has claimed that Ingham had to "retreat to a closet until the squall had passed over. But otherwise, Lee was agreeable to most of Ingham's arrangements." Hearsay suggests that Lee actually wanted Mike Renzi, her regular accompanist, to play at the sessions.

In Rudman's opinion, Lee's work during the sessions was a success. "It was as if she'd finally come home," Rudman told Richmond. "Her voice came from this quiet place, and she was the essence of Peggy Lee. She took in the energy of the musicians, of the art, and she was totally present in each moment."


Personnel

1. Peggy Lee's Assessment
2. Ken Peplowski
While talking to music critic Will Friedwald about one of the session's performances ("Can You Explain?"), Peggy Lee praised the musicians in the Keith Ingham Octet: "The way it came together was very nice. They were all marvelous in their own way, especially Kenny [Peplowski]. I don't often work with saxophones, but I came to love that horn all over again after hearing him. He reminds me of Ben Webster."

3. Tim Martyn
4. Andrew Milano
Tim Martyn is credited for the mastering of the Angel edition of Love Held Lightly, Andrew Milano for the mixing of the Harbinger edition.


Labels And Issues

1. The Delayed Release Of Love Held Lightly
Though recorded for Harbinger Productions in 1988, this session's masters were first released in 1993 by Angel Records.

Peggy Lee herself was the cause of the five-year delay. In the spring of 1988, when plans to issue an album were well in advance, the singer asked the producers to pull the plug on the project. She is said to have given various reasons for her decision, including some eccentric ones which might or might have not been uttered with tongue planted in cheek (e.g., her consultation with an astrologist who told her that the stars were not aligned in her favor and that "Mercury was in the retrograde"). Rudman's own opinion was that the artist had become scared because the songs had "put her out there emotionally in a way she hadn't been in a long, long time." Lee herself acknowledged her high sensitivity to the material, due in part to the emotions that Arlen's numbers had always aroused in her. She was also concerned about the weighty responsibility at hand: the release of tunes, most of them never published before, written by one of the greatest American composers.

But the principal source of her objections seems to have been more specific. In comments that Lee made to the press after she finally authorized the release of Love Held Lightly, it is the album's mix that comes off as the crux of the matter. After first listening to a rough mix, she had asked the producers to strengthen the masters' overall sound by adding more percussion and brass (trombone). Rudman had agreed with Lee's assessment, and had fulfilled her request. His acquiescence turned out to be of little avail, though. Despite further work on the masters, Lee remained dissatisfied. She felt that the mix (or the way that she had been miked) failed to capture the "layers of overtones" that she often pursued in her vocal interpretations. "When they use those limiters and high-tech things on the human voice, it doesn’t even sound like yourself when you hear the playback," she explained to the San Francisco Chronicle's Lee Hildebrand in 1993. For their part, the producers suspected that Lee's impressions on the mix had been colored by the visceral reaction that she had had to the original, unmixed tapes: the artist had not found them as smooth as she had hoped they would be.

But the passing of time apparently mollified Lee's misgivings. In 1992, she gave a fresh listening to the mix and unexpectedly called Rudman to authorize the album's release. As Rudman remembered, Lee said to him on the phone, "you know, dear, I've been listening to this tape, and it's really pretty good. I don't see any reason why you shouldn't put this out if you want to."

For the extremely considerate producers, the news of Lee's approval were very welcome, and a sign that they had proceeded wisely. In 1989, they had had to face the unpleasant prospect of telling their investors that the album had been cancelled. After doing so, they had decided to just sit and wait. As experienced producers who had already worked with a fair share of artists, they had thought it would be best to "be cool about it and not in any way pressure her, which we knew would backfire," Rudman explained to biographer Peter Richmond.

Added the ever-thoughtful Rudman: "We also did this because we knew that she had taken incredible risks on the project ... The Arlen songs ... required total nakedness in performance. From the beginning, that's what attracted her to the project. But embracing a project is not the same as embracing your work on it and knowing when to let go."

2. Angel Records
Once Lee gave her blessing (1992) to the release of the Arlen songbook, Bloom and Rudman took on the task of finding new investors in order to continue the project. After they completed that task, the producers' next hurdle was to convince the record labels that the album merited commercial release. Some of their past Harbinger projects had been successfully licensed to Stash Records, but in 1992 they were not finding any takers. "We sent tapes all over the place," Rudman told Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Rebecca Freligh, "and we kept getting told, Peggy sounds terrific, but why did you record all these songs that nobody knows?, which was very discouraging."

Finally, the album was picked up by Angel Records, a label whose specialty was classical American music. According to what the company's vice president of marketing (Linda Sterling) told Freligh, Love Held Lightly struck the label as "a natural" for them. Since Angel Records was in reality a New York-based branch of Capitol, their release of Love Held Lightly signified Peggy Lee's return (of sorts) to her mother label.

3. Love Held Lightly [CD; Harbinger Reissue]
Harbinger CD #2401 is a reissue of Angel CD #54798. In both issues, the same masters are included. The artwork is only slightly different. But the Harbinger reissue boasts richer writing: essays not only by Edward Jablonski and Will Friedwald (both reprinted from the 1993 Angel issue) but also longer, newly written notes by producers Rudman and Bloom. For a look at the covers, click here and here.

4. I Had A Love Once [LP]
A British music fan once told me that a Peggy Lee LP titled I Had A Love Once had been released abroad. No other sights of an album with that title are known to me. Most likely, the fan was confused about the title, and was actually thinking about Love Held Lightly. The album configuration that he cited is another curious detail; to my knowledge, Love Held Lightly has been issued only on cassette and compact disc, not on LP.


Location

1. Clinton Recording Studios
2. Classic Sound Studio
In their aforementioned essay, Rudman and Bloom identify Clinton Studios as the location in which these session's masters were recorded. They make this identification just in passing, without dwelling on it.

Another source ties these masters to Classic Sound (then located at 211 West 61st Street, New York). The source does not clarify if Classic Sound was the original recording location, or the place where some of the subsequent mastering and mixing took place.

I have naturally given greater credence to the comment made by the producers themselves.


Songs

1. "Happy With The Blues"
Peggy Lee originally wrote lyrics for the melody of "Happy With The Blues" back in 1961. Those original lyrics were commissioned for a television special in honor of songwriter Harold Arlen. (Details about that special, which was broadcast on September 1961, will be found in this discography's television section, once that section is finished and ready for viewing.)

Lee was never satisfied with the lyrics that she wrote in 1961. "Of all people," the artist said to an interviewer, "I admired Harold so much, and I wanted them to be really good. I suppose that’s what kept me from writing my best." These Love Held Lightly sessions gave Lee the opportunity to do a revise her lyrics, making them more suitable for Arlen's music.

2. "Unrecorded" Songs
Although no unissued Lee masters are known to exist at Harbinger, there is knowledge of at least two other rare Arlen songs that she and the company's producers considered to record: "I'm Off The Downbeat" and "Green Light Ahead."


Date: November 1, 2, 3, 1989
Location: BMG Studios, New York
Label: MUSICMASTERS/Amreco

Peggy Lee (ldr), John Chiodini (pdr, g, elg, bkv), Peggy Lee (pdr, v), John Snyder (pdr), Joe Lopes, Jay Newland (eng), Sanford Allen (con, vn), Mike Renzi (con, p), Jay Leonhart (b), William Galison (hps), Peter Grant (d), Mark Sherman (per), Robert Fuchs, Winterton Garvey, Stanley Hunter, Regis Iandiorio, Louann Montesi, Dale Stuckenbruck (vn), Diane Barere, Melissa Meell (vc), Milt Grayson (bkv)

a. Master Take (MusicMasters) Circle In The Sky - 2:55(Peggy Lee, Emil Joseph Palame, Jr.) / arr: Mike Renzi
b. Master Take (MusicMasters) I Just Want To Dance All Night - 3:59(John Chiodini, Peggy Lee) / arr: John Chiodini
BMG MUSIC PUBLISHING CD[promo] Pub 016 — PEGGY LEE: SONGWRITER   (2001)
c. Master Take (MusicMasters) He's A Tramp - 2:32(Joseph F. "Sonny" Burke, Peggy Lee) / arr: Mike Renzi
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" TranscriptionP 26543 - P 26544 — Basic Music Library [6 songs from LP There'll Be Another Spring]   (1990)
d. Master Take (MusicMasters) There'll Be Another Spring - 4:16(Peggy Lee, Hubie Wheeler) / arr: Mike Renzi
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" TranscriptionP 26543 - P 26544 — Basic Music Library [6 songs from LP There'll Be Another Spring]   (1990)
e. Master Take (MusicMasters) Johnny Guitar - 5:18(Peggy Lee, Victor Popular Young) / arr: Victor Young
f. Master Take (MusicMasters) Fever - 3:21(Otis Blackwell aka John Davenport, Eddie Cooley, Uncredited Second Lyricist) / arr: Peggy Lee
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" TranscriptionP 26543 - P 26544 — Basic Music Library [6 songs from LP There'll Be Another Spring]   (1990)
g. Master Take (MusicMasters) I'll Give It All To You - 2:30(John Chiodini, Peggy Lee) / arr: John Chiodini
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" TranscriptionP 26543 - P 26544 — Basic Music Library [6 songs from LP There'll Be Another Spring]   (1990)
h. Master Take (MusicMasters) Sans Souci - 3:06(Joseph F. "Sonny" Burke, Peggy Lee) / arr: Gordon Jenkins
i. Master Take (MusicMasters) Where Can I Go Without You? - 4:48(Peggy Lee, Victor Popular Young) / arr: Mike Renzi
j. Master Take (MusicMasters) Boomerang (I'll Come Back To You) - 3:26(John Chiodini, Peggy Lee) / arr: John Chiodini
k. Master Take (MusicMasters) Things Are Swingin' - 2:27(Peggy Lee, Jack Marshall) / arr: John Chiodini
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" TranscriptionP 26543 - P 26544 — Basic Music Library [6 songs from LP There'll Be Another Spring]   (1990)
l. Master Take (MusicMasters) Over The Wheel - 3:26(John Chiodini, Peggy Lee) / arr: John Chiodini
m. Master Take (MusicMasters) The Shining Sea - 2:35(Peggy Lee, Johnny Mandel) / arr: Johnny Mandel
Armed Forces Radio Service 12" TranscriptionP 26543 - P 26544 — Basic Music Library [6 songs from LP There'll Be Another Spring]   (1990)
All titles on: MUSICMASTERS/Amreco CS/LP/CDCijd 40249l/20249/60249k//Reprints: 503422 4c/60340k/503424 2c — THERE'LL BE ANOTHER SPRING; THE PEGGY LEE SONGBOOK   (1990)
Musical Heritage Society/Amreco CS/LP/CDMhc 40249l[CS]/20249[LP]/912697z[LP]/60249k[CD] — There'll Be Another Spring; The Peggy Lee Songbook   (1990)
Jazz Heritage Society/Amerco CD515674h — There'll Be Another Spring; The Peggy Lee Songbook   (1999)


Songs And Songwriters

1. "Fever"
2. Peggy Lee
This session's version of "Fever" boasts a couple of verses never heard in previous versions. They were newly written by Lee for this occasion. Also included in this version are some -- not all -- of the verses that were first heard in Lee's 1958 version, and which have been wrongly credited to the original songwriters (Otis Blackwell and Eddie Cooley).


Personnel

1. John Chiodini
2. Mike Renzi
John Chiodini and Mike Renzi were the co-conductors of this session's masters.

John Chiodini conducted "I Just Want To Dance All Night," "I'll Give It All To You," "Sans Souci," "Boomerang," "Things Are Swingin'," and "Over The Wheel."

Mike Renzi conducted "Circle In The Sky," "He's A Tramp," "There'll Be Another Spring," "Where Can I Go Without You?," and "The Shining Sea."

3. Victor Young
The credits in the album There'll Be Another Spring: The Peggy Lee Songbook correctly identify Victor Young (1900-1956) as the original arranger of "Johnny Guitar," but wrongly credit the long-deceased composer with conducting this 1989 version. The conductor must have been instead either Renzi or Chiodini.

4. Sanford Allen
Sanford Allen conductor of strings only.

5. Milton Grayson
Milton Grayson sings background vocals in "Sans Souci" only.

6. Sammy Cahn
Lyricist Sammy Cahn wrote the short but highly laudatory liner notes for The Peggy Lee Songbook. Though a good longtime friend of Lee's, Cahn makes a point of mentioning that the person who asked him to write the notes was Warner / Chappell's Frank Military (rather than Lee herself).

7. Jeffrey Nissim
Founder of MusicMasters Jeffrey Nissim is listed as the executive producer in the original album.

8. Peggy Lee
Notice that Peggy Lee receives producer credit on this session, along with John Chiodini and John Snyder.


Masters

1. Mixing And Mastering
According to the discographical notes that are part of The Peggy Lee Songbook, the album's masters were recorded on a Sony 48-track digital recorder, then mixed and mastered to a Sony PCM 1630. The mixing took place on December 4, 5 and 6, 1989, the mastering on December 7, 1989 and on January 10, 1990.


Arrangements (And Issues)

1. Misleading Credits
Contrary to what the credits in the album The Peggy Lee Songbook might seem to suggest, Gordon Jenkins, Johnny Mandel, and Victor Young were not present at these sessions. Instead, those credits point to the fact that their respective arrangements of previous Peggy Lee recordings were used by Lee and company.


Issues

1. Jeffey Nissim And The Peggy Lee Songbook Series
Peggy Lee told the press that the idea of doing an album consisting entirely of her lyrics had been suggested by MusicMasters' president Jeffrey Nissim. The vocalist made all the song choices in tandem with one of her right-hand musicians, John Chiodini. She also mentioned that the album had been conceived in commemoration of her 70th birthday, on May 26, 1990. (MusicMasters' original advertisement for the album actually lists it as "available March 13, 1990," a date which would have taken advantage of her concurrent engagement at The Ballroom, in New York City. Late March reviews of her Ballroom concerts indeed make mention of the album, thereby suggesting that it was already out. However, music sites and record guides generally give the album's official release date as June 25, 1990. Perhaps that summer date points to the national, wide release.)

Lee actually had plans to record a whole series of albums dedicated to the songs that she had written. In fact, the 1990 album was identified in some press reports as volume 1. (The album itself does not bear such a rubric, however.) MusicMasters' own press release refers to it as "a release of our first of multi-volume project entitled The Peggy Lee Songbook." For the second album, the singer-songwriter was contemplating recording just songs that she and Dave Barbour had written. (Lee's intention to carry out this plan is apparent from the fact that There'll Be Another Spring, the first album in the prospective Peggy Lee Songbook series, does not include any collaborations with Barbour.) Unfortunately, no other songbook albums were made, for reasons unknown.

2. The Album There'll Be Another Spring: The Peggy Lee Songbook At The Grammys
Both of Peggy Lee's albums for the MusicMasters label earned her Grammy nominations in the category of Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female. In addition to repeat nominees Betty Carter, Carmen McRae and newly emerging Dianne Reeves, the other nominee in this category was the woman who had won the award on almost every single year in which she had been nominated: Lee's beloved friend Ella Fitzgerald. With her album titled All That Jazz, Fitzgerald did it again, for one final time.

This was also the last of Peggy Lee's 14 Grammy nominations (12 bestowed on her, including one win; two bestowed on others but pertaining to her records). Or almost her last. In 1995, Peggy Lee received a very significant honor: The Grammy's Lifetime Achievement Award.

A few years after Lee passed away, there were also two Grammy nominations in connection to her 2004 set The Singles Collection. (Details can be found in the notes under the Capitol session dated February 18, 1952.)

3. MusicMasters' Various Pressings Of The Peggy Lee Songbook [LP, CS, CD]
There'll Be Another Spring was originally sent to stores on CD and cassette. The LP version was at that time available only to members of the Columbia House Club.

Following the original 1990 release, MusicMasters did another pressing, to which it assigned a new catalogue number. That second pressing is from around 1992.

Somewhat mysteriously, I have also come across listings for a CD edition of The Peggy Lee Songbook which is credited to neither MusicMasters or to Musical Heritage, though it bears the same year as the original release. Its catalogue number is S&R 8208212. I presume S&R to be a licensee or a distributor.

Although the above-listed pressings of the album are the only ones known to me, I do not discard the possibility of others, which could also bear entirely different catalogue numbers.

As shown in the issue entries above, the album was reissued on MusicMasters' parent company, Musical Heritage, too. There are also non-USA (re)issues of There'll Be Another Spring: The Peggy Lee Songbook on labels such as Limelight, Polygram, Phonogram, and Venus. A listing can be found in the Foreign Pressings page of this discography's Miscellanea section.


Collectors' Corner

1. The Peggy Lee Rose
Gracing the cover of The Peggy Lee Songbook is a drawing of the Peggy Lee Rose, a flower that the American Rose Society officially named after the singer in 1983.

2. Slightly Different Album Covers On MusicMasters And Musical Heritage
The same front cover graces all pressings and (re)issues of The Peggy Lee Songbook, but some minor differences are evident among them. MusicMasters' cover is in color, the Musical Heritage cover in black & white. (This detail has been corroborated only for the LP format. I have not been able to inspect Musical Heritage's reissues in the compact disc and cassette formats.) The cover of the Jazz Heritage CD is also in color, and differs from the MusicMasters cover by the addition of a pink framing around all four sides of the drawing.

3. Lyrics Sheet
To my knowledge, all the editions and configurations of There'll Be Another Spring have all the lyrics printed. (I have yet to come across an item that does not have them.) In the CDs, they are printed in the booklets, as expected. Also as expected, the Musical Heritage LP features them in its back cover. But the original LP on MusicMasters does not follow expectations. Its lyrics are printed in a jacket insert: one sheet of high gloss paper, almost the same size as the LP's jacket.


Masters And Labels

1. Amreco
2. Amerco
All issues from the Musical Heritage family of labels bear two ownership credits, one for the label itself and another for a company that, curiously, seems to have changed its name at some point in time. The company's name was given as Amreco, Inc. until some time in the late 1990s or early 2000s, when it was changed to Amerco, Inc.

In the albums, Amreco/Amerco is usually tied to the sound recording copyright ( ℗ ), occasionally to the registered trademark ( ® ). The regular copyright symbol ( © ) is attached to the Musical Heritage labels.


Date: Probably 1990
Location: Carpenter Avenue Elementary School, 3909 Carpenter Avenue, Studio City, California , & Stagg Street Studio, 15147 Stagg Street. Van Nuys, California
Label: MUSICMASTERS/Amreco

Peggy Lee (ldr), Wendy Raksin (dir), John Chiodini (pdr), Glen Aulepp, Gary Denton, Joe Lopes, Jay Newland (eng), Unknown (afp), Dom DeLuise, Other Individuals Unknown (v), Peggy Lee (v, spk), The Carpenter Avenue Elementary School Chorus (bkv)

a. Master Take (MusicMasters) Everybody Needs A Santa Claus - 1:51(John Chiodini, Peggy Lee) / arr: John Chiodini, Peggy Lee
b. Master Take (MusicMasters) We Be Friends - 3:02(John Chiodini, Peggy Lee) / arr: John Chiodini, Peggy Lee
Both titles on: MUSICMASTERS/Amreco cassingle5500 4 Cs — EVERYBODY NEEDS A SANTA CLAUS / WE BE FRIENDS   (1990)


At The Recording Session

Julena Stinson and Beverly A. West, both erstwhile members of the Carpenter Avenue Elementary School chorus, have kindly shared with me their memories of some events that transpired at this session and at its rehearsal.

Julena Stinson and I came into contacted in 2004. Julena remembers rehearsing with both Peggy Lee and John Chiodini at one point, but believes that only Chiodini was present during the chorus' actual recording of the vocal. Julena's understandably vague recollection is that Lee had become ill, and could not be present. (See second reminiscence, below, for a different take on this matter.) She further recalls that the session had been scheduled to be recorded at Stagg Street Studio, but plans had to be canceled when the permits for bus transportation could not get processed in time. Instead, the chorus recorded its vocal at the school's auditorium. A 22-year-old when she spoke with me in 2004, Julena believes that she was about 7 at the time of the recording session, a detail which would point to 1989 as the (unclear) recording year for this session.

Beverly A. West contacted me in 2009. Beverly specifically remembers Peggy Lee being present during the recording. Adds Beverly: "she was definitely ill — in a wheelchair, if I remember correctly. She apologized to us at one point because she had to stop to eat a sandwich because of her health. She was a very nice lady. Asked about the year in which the session took place, Beverly answered as follows: I was in the fifth grade at the time, so it would have been in fall 1989 or spring 1990. I suspect it was in the spring of 1990."


Dating

This session's date remains unknown to me. The two possible years are 1989 and 1990, as suggested by the details given below.

The cassette single that contains these performances identifies 1990 as the year of copyright. (Some online servers give an October 12, 1992 release date to the cassingle, but I am inclined to think that the servers' information is erroneous. Or, otherwise, it could point to a re-release, although I have found no evidence of one.)

For the songs themselves, the following information is given in the cassingle: Words & Music: Peggy Lee/John Chiodini © 1990, 1989. It is clear that "We Be Friends" had already been written by early 1989: Lee was singing this song live, in concert, during April of that year, in San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel.

An article published in the December 1990 issue of Interview Magazine suggests that "Everybody Loves A Santa Claus" was written that same year. Interviewer Linda Ekblad quotes Peggy as saying that she was "writing a Christmas special called The Legend of Christmas .... Dom DeLuise is going to be one of the Santa Clauses. Won't that be perfect? We're trying to get Jonathan Winters. I have written a song for it: Everybody Needs A Santa Claus." (This prospective TV special probably did not come to fruition. Lee is known to have rehearsed for it, and a tape of the rehearsed songs has been preserved.)

If Lee truly wrote "Everybody Loves A Santa Claus" for a special that was in the making in 1990, then it would be logical to assume that this session's masters were also recorded in 1990. Adding to the circumstantial evidence is the cassingle's year of copyright, and also Beverly A. West's inclination toward the spring of 1990 as the correct period.


Personnel

1. Dom DeLuise
Dom DeLuise participates in "Everybody Needs A Santa Claus" only.

2. Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee's speaking voice is heard only in portions of "Everybody Needs A Santa Claus."

3. Wendy Raskin
Wendy Raskin was musical director for The Carpenter Avenue Elementary School Chorus only.


Masters

1. Mixing
The cassingle credits the mixing of these performances to John Chiodini and Gary Denton.

2. Gary Denton
3. Glenn Aulepp
4. Joe Lopes
5. Gary Newland
Engineers Gary Denton and Glen Aulepp are credited for both masters. (Denton is the owner of Stagg Street Studio.) Aulepp is identified as the "2nd. engineeer." Joe Lopes and Gary Newland are credited for "Everybody Loves A Santa Claus" only.


Peggy Lee At MusicMasters And At Harbinger Records


In July 1985, Peggy Lee came to New York to sing, for the very first time, at The Ballroom. A supper club that had been operating at 253 West 28th Street since 1981, The Ballroom was to be Lee's return to an intimate New York setting since her last season at the Waldorf Astoria, back in 1976. (Between 1977 and 1984, Lee's Manhattan performances had been limited to one-night-only events in large venues such as Radio City, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Madison Square Garden. She had briefly appeared in Broadway, too.) The Ballroom engagement was a resounding success which turned Lee into one of the club's mainstays for the rest of the decade.

In 1988, her fourth visit to The Ballroom was promoted as a commemoration of her 50th anniversary as a professional vocalist, although by her own admission it was actually her 53rd or 54th. Such publicity, along with the sustained success of previous Ballroom performances, arose the interest of various record labels that were located in the New York and New Jersey area. Lee ended up accepting recording offers from two of them: MusicMasters and Harbinger.



Peggy Lee At Jeffrey Nissim's MusicMasters Records


MusicMasters was actually a branch of Musical Heritage Society, a New Jersey-based, family-owned mail order company which had been releasing licensed European classical music since 1962. The MusicMasters branch was created around 1983 (or in the late 1970s, according to another account) by Jeff Nissim, son of Musical Heritage's president Albert Nissim. The branch's purpose was to release both newly recorded and previously unissued performances from the worlds of classical and jazz music. Among the catalysts which led to Jeff Nissim's foundation of his label was the news that Benny Goodman possessed a fair number of self-owned, hitherto unissued classical material. MusicMasters ended up amassing a remarkable collection of albums by not only Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee but also Dave Brubeck, Benny Carter, Lionel Hampton, Freddie Hubbard, Artie Shaw, Stanley Turrentine, etc. The branch seems to have stopped releasing new music around 1997, but its catalogue has lived on through the still ongoing mother label, and through a more recently formed sister branch (Jazz Heritage Society, 1995). Furthermore, Nissim struck in 2008 a deal to sell downloads from the MusicMasters catalogue through a digital company.

In January 1988, a press release indicated that Lee would be "recorded in performance live by MusicMasters Records during several nights of her upcoming two-week engagement at The Ballroom ... Jeffrey Nissim, President of MusicMasters ... said: It is indeed an honor to add the legendary Miss Lee to our growing roster of classic jazz artists. It is our hope that this album will become only the first in a series of jewels Peggy Lee will favor MusicMasters with."

MusicMasters might have taped the Ballroom performances as planned, but ultimately no concert album came out. A studio album was issued instead. From comments that Lee made to New York Times arts critic Stephen Holden shortly before the start of the Ballroom five-week engagement, it is apparent that both albums had been planned at first. "She has plans to record four albums for two different record companies," wrote Holden, "including one live at the Ballroom. One of the others will concentrate on vintage blues songs of the Bessie Smith era."

Peggy Lee's association with MusicMasters was a lasting and productive one. After the initial album, recorded in 1988, the association bore another album in 1989, whose concept was suggested by Nissim himself. (See sessions below, dated November 1, 2, and 3, 1989.) Plans to do more albums -- a series of Lee songbooks -- were made but, for reasons unknown, did not come to pass. In addition to the albums, Lee also recorded one MusicMasters single around 1990 and one guest performance in 1995. Her final studio recording (the 1995 guest performance) was in fact done for this noteworthy label.



Peggy Lee At Ken Bloom's And Bill Rudman's Harbinger Records


Harbinger was the other noteworthy company for which Peggy Lee recorded during her Ballroom years. The label had been set up in 1983 by a two-men team: Cleveland-based educator/radio broadcaster Bill Rudman and New York-based theatre historian/director Ken Bloom. Their first release was a taped concert that Geraldine Fitzgerald had given at Cleveland's Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival. Rudman was an associate director at the festival. After their live album was met with great critical success, the two men felt emboldened enough to produce their very first studio session. Aware that Francis Ford Coppola's much-buzzed-about period movie The Cotton Club was upcoming, Bloom and Rudman thought about recording an album of songs connected to that famous Harlem nightclub. They decided to concentrate on the numbers that the team of Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler had written during the period in which they worked for the club (1930-1934). To that end, they met with Arlen's friend and biographer Ed Jablonski. He acquainted Bloom and Rudman with a batch of song manuscripts which Arlen had kept in a storage unit, and which had barely enjoyed the light of day since the early 1930s.

Next, the producers set out to choose a suitable vocalist. They visited Tower Records to check the bins of LPs by Broadway and pop singers. Maxine Sullivan was their choice. A phone search and a subsequent call to the semi-retired singer was all it took. The resulting album (The Great Songs From The Cotton Club By Harold Arlen And Ted Koehler) garnered a Grammy nomination in 1984 and became the first of the producers' three songbook collaborations with Sullivan, who passed away in 1987 -- and who happened to be Peggy Lee's greatest vocal influence. (Due to Sullivan's illness, plans for a fourth songbook, dedicated to Hoagy Carmichael, and slated to be recorded in 1987, had to be cancelled.)

One year earlier, Harold Arlen had also passed away. While cataloging the deceased's collection, Jablonski had discovered another treasure trove of Arlen songs, most of them rare or even unpublished. Made aware of the discovery, Bloom and Rudman excitedly planned one full album of such songs. When the time to choose a singer came, the producers followed the same plan of action they had used for the Cotton Club project. "Ken and I went to the singers' section in Tower Records in New York and went through all the bins from A to Z," Rudman told reporter Rebecca Freligh of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1993. "We got to Z, and said, 'it's Peggy Lee or nobody.' "

"In January 1988," states reporter Freligh, "Rudman called Lee at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, where she was performing. He told her he had a concept for an album. She didn't know him from Adam, and it seemed she didn't want to. I said, 'Just let me tell you what the idea is. The idea is, these are all unpublished songs by Harold Arlen. And there was this pause. And she said, Oh. Yes, I would be interested in talking to you. (Freligh's account has at least one erroneous detail. Lee had not performed at the Waldorf Astoria since the 1970s, although she could have been staying there in 1988.)

More recently, Bloom and Rudman were interviewed at length for a biography of Peggy Lee. The producers told biographer Peter Richmond that they had gone to see Lee at The Ballroom during her February 1988 engagement, and that the performance which they watched had further convinced them: she was the right choice for their project. Hence the team accosted the artist after the show, as she was about to be driven in a limo. A very interested Lee extended an offer to have them visit at her home in California. They ended up making three visits, the first just so that Lee could listen to the songs (April 1988) and the other two visits dedicated to rehearsals in the company of Keith Ingham. (The pianist and arranger had been the main musical collaborator on the albums that Maxine Sullivan had recorded for Harbinger, too.) Fourteen songs were ultimately chosen by the producers, and at least a couple more were considered but ultimately left unrecorded. For details about the recording dates, see session dated August 29, 1988.

Years later, Lee told the press that she had loved working with Bloom and Rudman, deeming them "very thoughtful and supportive and enthusiastic. I've never had more fun with anyone -- and I've had great producers." For their part, the producers told biographer Peter Richmond that Lee had had fun telling them obscene jokes: "[s]he was sort of like a little kid, mischievously telling these jokes." But at the sessions, they found her to conduct herself very professionally, and to give moving, nakedly heartfelt renditions of the performances. According to the producers, they made plans to record next an Alec Wilder songbook, "which never materialized due to her failing health."


Sessions Reported: 5

Performances Reported: 43

Unique Songs Reported: 43

Unique Issues Reported: 13