BRIAN 10.7.6 -- Mac OS

Peggy Lee's Bio-Discography:
The Chesky Contract And The Guest Vocals (1992-1995)

by Iván Santiago-Mercado

Page generated on Apr 20, 2021





Peggy Lee's Recording Career, 1992-1995

The last phase of Peggy Lee's recording career generated 18 studio masters. The bulk of them are performances recorded for a Lee CD -- the exceptions being three guest performances, each one meant for another artist's CD project. Almost all of this discographical activity took while Lee was simultaneously performing at the New York Hilton's Club 53 (summer of 1992). In a situation that paralleled her 1988 appearances at the Ballroom (also a New York club), accolades from both critics and concertgoers translated into record offers from a few interested parties, including the New York-based label Chesky Records. For specifics about Lee's association with that label, and for her connections to the fellow artists for whom she guested (Benny Carter, Michael Franks, Gilbert O'Sullivan), see this page's final, general note, as well as the individual, corresponding session notes below.








The Peggy Look, 1990-2001

In addition to summarizing the page's contents, the present section offers visual documentation of Lee's physique through the last phase of her recording career. I am of course referring to the 1990s, during which she made the studio recordings to be itemized in the main body of this page. The top space above is occupied by a representative photo of the septuagenarian at a book signing. Believed to have taken place in 1990, the event promoted the release of her autobiography by Bloomsbury Books, a British publishing house.

Moving to the set of pictorial rows above, the second photo is from the same book-signing event, its venue unknown to me. (Given the location of the publishing house, the event could have happened during Lee's 1990 UK tour.) Preceding that photo is one taken on December the third, at the 1990 Society of Singers' award ceremony for Frank Sinatra. As explained in the opening section of the previous discographical page, Lee's ability to walk had been initially impaired by a fall that she had sustained onstage in 1987. diabetes and other ailments further diminished her ability. During the ensuing years, she would start off with canes and walkers before moving to wheelchairs. Though in the early 1990s she could still stand, all those options were functioning as walking aides for her, used to move around and keep balance. Standing is precisely how we see her in the fourth picture, taken while she was performing at the Royal Albert Hall in the UK. Also deemed to be from around 1990, the remaining picture captures Lee probably at home by her piano.

The second row features Peggy Lee mementoes from 1991, 1992, and 1993. We start off with a face shot, taken at court in LA, on March 7, 1991. The occasion was Lee's ongoing lawsuit against the Disney corporation, on the matter of compensation over the sale of videotapes of the movie Lady And The Tramp. Next up is one out of a batch of photos reportedly taken at a "Beverly Hills rehearsal" on December 30, 1992, exact location unknown. The rehearsal was for a performance that would be taking place on the last day of that year. From 1993, the third shot was taken backstage on the day of the Society Of Singers' tribute to "The Women Who Sang With The Big Bands." My understanding is that Peggy Lee was present as a guest, not a participant.

The third pictorial row brings representative pictures from the 1993-1995 years. The middle shot was taken on May 9, 1994, at the Society Of Singers award ceremony in honor of Peggy Lee. The shot to the right shows Lee, in white and on her wheelchair, either coming into or leaving an unspecified LA event in 1995. No details have come forth about the more colorful photo to the left, which I estimate to date from around 1993, or later.

The final row of photography concentrates in 1995, which also happened to be Lee's very last year of recording activity. The first two shots share the same date (June 22, 1992) and are linked to the same event, identified only as a NY conference. Lee is first seen here in New York, while in attendance at the conference, next at the LAX airport in Los Angeles, probably leaving for -- rather than returning from -- the conference. September 20, 1995 is the date for the third picture, where a smiling Lee is attending the Golden Bell Awards in Beverly Hills, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. (Rather than the international famous, Taiwan Ministry of Culture production, I presumed this to be the CSBA Golden Bell Awards organization, which describes itself as "promot[ing] excellence in education by recognizing outstanding programs in school districts and county offices of education throughout California.") We conclude with a photo from the very last public event from which I have found Lee photos: the funeral of Bernard Lafferty, the famous former butler of not only Doris Duke but also, and more informally, Lee herself.


Date: August 10, 1992
Location: New York
Label: REPRISE

Michael Franks (ldr), Ben Sidran (pdr), Chris Hunter (as), John Pisano (g), John Patitucci (b), Warren Bernhardt (p), Alex Acuña (d, per), Michael Franks, Peggy Lee, Other Individuals Unknown (v)

a. Master Take (Reprise) You Were Meant For Me - 4:40(Michael Franks)
REPRISE©Warner CS/CD9 45227 4/2 — [Michael Franks] DRAGONFLY SUMMER   (1993)





Dating And Masters

The main basis for the dating that I have assigned to this session's master is a San Francisco Chronicle article, published on July 25, 1993, in which reporter Lee Hildebrand states that Michael Franks and Peggy Lee recorded their duet "in New York last August." There is also a September 14, 1992 Associated Press article on which states that, during her stay in New York, Lee sang "a duet and made a video with Gilbert O'Sullivan and also recorded with Michael Franks, at their request, songs each of them wrote." While these sources reasonably establish both the year and month of the recording, they do not reveal the exact day on which it took place. For the rationale behind the day that I have entered, read my comments below, under Photos.

That Associated Press quote raises the possibility that Franks and Lee recorded not only his own composition ("You Were Meant For Me") but also one or more of Lee's own lyrics. However, there is no public record of any Lee lyrics recorded by Franks -- neither solo nor with her. If any additional duet activity ever took place, it would have to be unreleased, and/or could have been erased from the tapes. It is just as possible that Hildebrand simply misunderstood.


At The Recording Session

Dragonfly Summer was singer-songwriter's Michael Franks' 11th album. Besides nten solo vocals, it features two duets, one with Peggy Lee and the other with Dan Hicks. "It is a very personal album," Franks said for its press release. "It's a description of my life and feelings right now. I wanted to give the poetic side of myself as much freedom of expression as possible."

Separately interviewed by journalist Lee Hildebrand for the aforementioned 1993 San Francisco Chronicle article, Peggy Lee and Michael Franks spoke approvingly of their collaboration. For his part, Hildebrand remarked that "their voices [are] almost mirror images of each other," with similarly "quiet tones" and "behind-the-beat phrasing."

“I think it’s natural for both of us,” mused Lee. “It’s a rather subtle thing; I don’t think it’s too explainable.” Franks elaborated: "Considering the feminine voice and the male voice, there were moments I thought they were so close. And she came up with all those really pretty harmony parts at the end. She ad-libbed that. It was amazing to be there with her and just to observe at such close range how she worked."

Less gracious comments were offered by producer Ben Sidran in his biography On The Rim Of The Well: A Life In The Music. Sidran stated that the session took place in the summer of 1992, when Lee arrived at the studio "in wheelchair, in such fragile health that she clearly could not sing the way she would have liked."

Sidran added that Lee "insisted she wanted to sing the duet with Michael live," an idea that Sidran did not find worthwhile. He remembered telling Franks (presumably outside of Lee's listening range): "We are going to have to spend a lot of time getting her parts right, and Michael, you can do yours later. So I'm going to go out there and tell her I have some technical problem in here and that it isn't possible to do both vocals at once." Sidran then approached Lee, and allegedly told her: "Miss Lee, that was lovely but could I ask you to sing that live again because we're still having problems in here." In the Sidran's own words, he kept repeating the same words "for an hour."

The producer continues: "she was a real trooper and when it was over, we had the makings of a very poignant vocal track." He further professes to have spent "the rest of the day [after lunch] sampling, timing and editing each of her words, syllables, and phonemes, taking extra care that none of the sutures would show, giving her vocal the greatest facelift known to man or woman. It was a prime example of what the technology was for: creating a new reality." Sidran concludes this rather self-congratulatory account by calling the end result "tragic and bittersweet."

Like many other Franks' releases, Dragonfly Summer made Billboard's Jazz Albums chart. It peaked at #19 at the very start of 1994.





Personnel

1. Source
My source for this session's personnel is the album's booklet, on which the 12 tracks are divided into four groups, based on their producer. (From a discographical standpoint, this approach is appreciated, being as it is far more helpful than a collective personnel for the entire track program. Of course, a listing of personnel for each individual track would have been the best option.) Two of the tracks, both duets, feature the same producer, and have the same personnel listed under them. In addition to "You Were Meant For Me," the album's other duet is "Keeping My Eye On You," co-interpreted by Franks and Dan Hicks. It is certainly possible that both duets were recorded on the same day; Franks seems to be wearing the same shirt on the provided photos with Hicks and Lee. In the case of the engineers, Sides is credited with "recording," Farber with both recording and mixing, without any specification
as to their degree of involvement on each duet track.


Photos

Top row: a shot of Peggy Lee and Michael Franks together at the recording session, and a close-up shot of Franks, included in the album's booklet. (Used as part of the album's publicity, the original photo of Franks with Lee is actually in black and white. The incarnation on display is an artificially colorized version.) Middle row: Franks in a picture taken on August 10 of 1992, during his meeting with the album's other duet partner, Dan Hicks. (This is a cropped but original photograph. It looks like Franks wore the same blue shirt during his respective meetings with Hicks and Lee. If so, it can be speculated that both duets were recorded on the same day. As already mentioned, the same producer was behind these duets, and the album lists the same personnel under both duets. It is on this speculative basin that I have tentatively entered this session's date as August the 10th.) Also in sight: the album on compact disc and cassette tape, the two original 1993 formats on which it was issued. Below: a vinyl edition of the album, reissued years later in Korea, and the CD's back cover.





Michael Franks' Comments On Peggy Lee

In addition to the duet-related assessment already quoted above, Michael Franks also voice his liking of Peggy Lee during an NPR interview conducted by Scott Simon. "I gather one of your early idols was Peggy Lee," Simon quizzes Franks. The singer responds as follows: "Yes, she was. And she was so kind to me when I first started. She knew a musician who was working with me. And this guitarist, with whom I worked, had been her musical director. And he said would you like to meet Peggy, and I said yeah. And so went up to her house and she had heard some of the early rough mixes from The Art Of Tea, and she told me how much she liked it. She mentioned particular tunes. She liked a song called 'Eggplant' a lot. She said I've loved that tune. I couldn't believe I was actually next to her, you know, let alone being in her house. And then later, maybe a few years later, she recorded one of my songs ... I listened to her growing up and my parents were big fans. And so, I never could get over that sense of excitement, you know, when I was around her." The guitarist to whom the singer refers is probably John Pisano. Franks is believed to have been introduced to Lee by both Pisano and his then wife, Lee's gal pal Kathy Levy.


Date: August or Early September 1992
Location: The Hit Factory, 421 West 54th, New York
Label: PARK

Gilbert O'Sullivan (ldr), Gilbert O'Sullivan (pdr, key, v), Alan Branch, Mark Flannery, Steve Lowe (eng), John Gallen, Mike Ross (eng, eng-voc), Geoff Foster (eng-voc), Laurie Holloway (ccm), orchestra (acc), Geoff Whitehorn (g), Bob Skeat (bgtr), Mick Parker (pac), Roly Kerridge (per), Peggy Lee (v, spk), Other Individuals Unknown (v)

a. Master Take (Park?) Can't Think Straight - 4:04(Raymond O'Sullivan) / arr: Laurie Holloway, Gilbert O'Sullivan
PARK CD single(United Kingdom) Parkcd 15 — [Gilbert O'Sullivan And Peggy Lee] CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT   (1992)
PARK CS/CD(United Kingdom) Parkmc/cd 19 — [Gilbert O'Sullivan] Sounds Of The Loop   (1993)
Arcade Licensed CD(Netherlands) 01 9080 6 Jk 76956 — [Gilbert O'Sullivan] The Very Best Of Gilbert O'Sullivan   (1994)





Blue Arrowhead

Click on the above-seen arrowhead if you want to see a longer list of issues featuring this session's recording of "Can't Think Straight."


Dating

The album credits for CD Sounds Of The Loop state that it was "recorded between 24th June and 12th September 1991." These dates must apply to O'Sullivan's recording of his solo material, but not to Peggy Lee's contribution. The basis for the approximate date that I have assigned to this session's master is the following comment, found in an Associated Press report published on September 14, 1992: "Singer Peggy Lee ... just finished selling out a five-week engagement at Club 53 in the New York Hilton ... While in New York, [Peggy Lee] sang a duet and made a video with Gilbert O'Sullivan ..." Since the engagement had begun around July 29 and would end on August 29, 1992, Lee's recording activity for O'Sullivan probably took place in August -- or, otherwise, in early September of that year. Late July should be deemed a third and less likely possibility. (n.b.: Further details about the video that is mentioned in the Associated Press quote can be found not only below but also in another section that this discography dedicates to the O'Sullivan-Lee collaboration.)


Location

The album credits for CD Sounds Of The Loop state that it was recorded "at Val Au Bec, Jersey," and at "C.I. Gateway, Kingston, Surrey." As with the aforementioned record dates, these recording locations are not likely to apply to "Can't Think Straight" -- not, at least, to Peggy Lee's vocal contribution.

According to O'Sullivan's official site, the album was "recorded almost entirely at his home in Jersey in the Channel Islands." As worthwhile as it is, this quote is too general to allow us to pinpoint where exactly was "Can't Think Straight" taped. Was it one of the songs (partially, fully) recorded at the artist's home, or was it of songs that -- to judge from the quote -- he committed to record elsewhere? ... Another fine source of information about the Irish singer and his recordings is Joe DiMuro's fan site. For our specify pursuit, however, the site does not furnish any answers. (Incidentally, though with great regret, it must report that neither of the mentioned sites is in operation any longer. On the chance that these sites make a return in the future, here are their currently obsolete web addresses: www.gilbertosullivan.net and www.gosullivan.com .)

While no specifics about O'Sullivan's part of the vocal has been forthcoming, there is clearer information about the parts of "Can't Think Straight" that feature Peggy Lee. We know that those parts were recorded in New York and that O'Sullivan flew to the city for the occasion (August or September 1992). In a BBC radio interview given many years later (July 2007), O'Sullivan himself confirmed that he was present in the studio when Lee recorded her part for the number. We also know that the pair was together when they worked on a video version of "Can't Think Straight" (for which they might have perhaps mimed to an already recorded master). He identified the Hit Factory as the studio where all those activities took place. Still further, at some of his concert appearances, O'Sullivan has told his audiences that he and Lee spent two days together during the recording process.

The singer-songwriter's confirmed presence next to Lee in the studio does not necessarily mean that he too recorded his part of the vocal on the same day. According to an O'Sullivan fan who posted a comment at an online fansite, there is another radio interview in which O'Sullivan clarifies that he and Lee actually sang their parts separately. The parts were then blended in the studio. Although I have no further knowledge or awareness of the interview in question, I am inclined to trust the claim made by this O'Sullivan fan. It certainly agrees with my impression that the same O'Sullivan vocal is heard in the four versions of the song that will be discussed below.

It could be argued that, rather than "duet partner," denominations such as "cameo partner" or "guest vocalist" are more suitable for the female vocal role in this song. While fairly substantial, the role is supplementary, or subservient to O'Sullivan's own.





Personnel

1. Collective Personnel
Sounds Of The Loop (Park CD #19) is my only source for this session's personnel. The CD actually lists a collective personnel, leaving us to assume that it applies to all of the songs in the album. Given the fairly large number of participants listed, that assumption is probably incorrect. Since it is unclear which of the individuals listed took part in the making of "Can't Think Straight" (other than O'Sullivan and Lee, of course, as well as concertmaster Laurie Holloway), the personnel entered above should be considered tentative.


Songwriters

1. Raymond O'Sullivan
Raymond Edward O'Sullivan is the birthname of Gilbert O'Sullivan. Raymond O'Sullivan is also the name under which BMI lists his compositions.


Photos

Top: front cover of the single Can't Think Straight, plus a magnified version of the snapshot which graces that front cover. Second row: the 2015 front cover of Gilbert O'Sullivan album Latin Ala G, next to its inspiration (both visually and thematically), the 1960 Peggy Lee album Latin Ala Lee. The O'Sullivan album will be discussed below. Third row: additional shots from the respective album photo sessions, along with the back cover of Lee's sequel to Latin Ala Lee, the 1961 album Olé Ala Lee. Fourth row: four editions of the O'Sullivan album Sounds From The Loop, beginning with the Japanese and British ones, then continuing with the Scandinavian one. The remaining image shows an expanded edition of the British CD. Last row: snapshots from the "Can't Think Straight" video. This video will also be discussed below, and ditto for the four editions of Can't Think Straight.







Masters, Issues (And Collectors' Corner)

1. "Can't Think Straight" [CD Single, Park Records]
It should be clarified that Park's CD single "Can't Think Straight" actually contains not one (nor two) but three songs, all of them written by Gilbert O'Sullivan: "Can't Think Straight," "Sometimes," and "Divorce Irish Style." The fine print on this CD single has already been mentioned above; the songs are identified as being "from the forthcoming album Sounds Of The Loop.

A picture of the single's front cover of the single has also been provided, up above. (For a photo of its back cover, go to the Gilbert O'Sullivan section of this alphabetically sequence guest artist page.) In the single's front cover, "Gilbert O'Sullivan & Peggy Lee" are jointly identified as the featured act, and the two artists are seen together. Nevertheless, Lee's involvement is restricted to the titular number. The more accurate billing for Lee would have thus been that of "guest artist," since the other two songs feature O'Sullivan alone (naturally).


2. The Best Of Gilbert O'Sullivan [CD, Rhino Records]
Rhino Records has released a CD titled The Best Of Gilbert O'Sullivan twice. The first release dates from 1991, the second from 1997. Each edition contains 20 tracks and uses the same catalogue number, but the front covers are different. More to the point, two of the numbers in the 1991 issue are replaced with other numbers in the 1997 reissue. One of the replacements is "Can't Think Straight." (In other words, only the 1997 edition of Rhino R2 70560 includes the song "Can't Think Straight.")

Further adding to the confusion surrounding this Rhino compilation is the fact that the first pressing of the 1997 edition erroneously included the Kirsten Siggaard duet version of "Can't Think Straight." (For an account of the various duet versions of this song in existence, see next points below.) According to word of mouth from knowledgeable O'Sullivan fans, a very mortified O'Sullivan requested a recall of that first pressing. The second pressing is the one said to contain the Peggy Lee version, and generally available at most commercial sites.





3. The Many (Fe)male Faces Of "Can't Think Straight"
"Can't Think Straight" was originally recorded for inclusion in Gilbert O'Sullivan's CD Sounds Of The Loop. Curiously, that CD has been issued in four editions. All editions feature the same personnel and the same songs, with one exception: the song "Can't Think Straight," offered by each edition in a partially different take. While the exact same O'Sullivan's vocal is heard in every instance (and ditto for the instrumentation playing behind him), the duet's guest vocalist changes from one edition to another. As will be detailed below, each of these four editions of the album features a guest artist who has been obviously chosen on account of the international market to which the given edition caters. Accordingly, three of those guests sing not in English but in their respective native languages. Moreover, the lyrics that they interpret are not the exact same ones in each and every case.

The original edition of Sounds Of The Loop was released by Toshiba EMI in Japan (CD Tocp 6897). It dates from 1991. All the numbers included in the edition were recorded between June 24 and September 12, 1991. Since it was a release for the Asian market, it should not come as a surprise that the CD's version of "Can't Think Straight" is sung by O'Sullivan in the company of pianist and vocalist Takao Kisugi. The latter sings his part in Japanese, O'Sullivan in English. (This non-domestic version of the album might have come first more by necessity than by design. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, O'Sullivan no longer had a recording contract with a major label in the United Kingdom, and as a result he initially released much of his work from this period through Japanese and German labels.)

Reportedly run by a friend of O'Sullivan, the British label Park Records was the first to release the O'Sullivan version of "Cant' Think Straight" that features Peggy Lee. This version came out in late 1992, as part of a CD single that was itself also titled Can't_Think_Straight. The single identifies itself as an advance sample from a forthcoming album, Sounds Of The Loop, on the same label. Indeed, one year later, Park finally released the second edition of Sounds Of The Loop, meant for distribution in the United Kingdom and, prospectively, the United States. (Significant differences between the Toshiba EMI and Park editions will be discussed below.)

O'Sullivan's two other guest partners were Kirsten Siggaard, from Denmark, and Silvia Tortosa, from Spain. The CD editions that contain their respective versions were released in 1993. There's Tortosa on a Bcn Records CD, singing her part in Spanish; and there's Siggaard on a Scandinavian Records CD, singing hers in English. Furthermore, the set of lyrics sung by Tortosa is not only in Spanish but also entirely different from the lyrics set sung by Siggaard and Lee.

As to how the partnerships with O'Sullivan came to happen, little to no specifics are provided by the liner notes and interviews which I have consulted. It seems likely that most if not all of O'Sullivan's partners recorded their respective parts separately. In Lee's case, O'Sullivan appears to have made a point of coming to the studio while she was recording her part.


4. Sounds Of The Loop [CD, Park Records]
The CD Sounds Of The Loop was first released by Toshiba EMI in Japan, then by Park in Great Britain. As previously mentioned, the Japanese edition contains O'Sullivan's "Can't Think Straight" version with Takao Kisugi. The Park edition contains, on the other hand, two versions of "Can't Think Straight": the duet with Takao Kisugi (track #12) and the duet with Peggy Lee (track #6). In addition, the Park edition was reissued in 2013 with bonus tracks. That expanded edition of Sounds Of The Loop contains three of the four duetversions of "Can't Think Straight," giving priority to the one featuring Peggy Lee.
There are two other editions of the CD, both from 1993 and both including the song with partners other than Lee.


5. Love Songs [CD, Kitty Records]
Various sources erroneously report that the 1998 Japanese CD Love Songs (Kitty Records Ktcm 1132) includes the duet version by Peggy Lee and O'Sullivan. This anthology of O'Sullivan ballads contains instead the version with Takao Kisugi.





6. The Gilbert O'Sullivan - Peggy Lee Video
A video performance of "Can't Think Straight" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, Peggy Lee and the rest of the personnel was taped in 1992. O'Sullivan has said that the taping stemmed from his own desire "for a video just to have for keepsake." Around 2009, O'Sullivan began to play that video in his concerts, prefacing it with some general comments about his encounter with Lee. At the original time of this writing (April 2011), YouTube was offering two clips in which this part of O'Sullivan's concerts is shown. One of the clips is worthwhile because it includes O'Sullivan's introductory commentary about his meeting with Lee. Unfortunately, however, the clip's picture quality is blurry. Even more regrettably, the person who taped this video segment fully concentrated on O'Sullivan's appearance, at the expense of Lee's. As a result, her cameo (already a brief one, since her lines are relatively few) gets shortchanged. The other YouTube clip lacks the introductory commentary but has better quality and, best of all, shows Lee's videotaped appearance in full.


7. Latin Ala G [CD, Union Square Music Records]
In the year 2015, Gilbert O'Sullivan released a collection of self-penned songs with a latin lilt, which he titled Latin Ala G. Peggy Lee's latinized work (particularly in the albums Latin Ala Lee! and Olé Ala Lee!) was O'Sullivan's inspiration for the album's concept, title, and artwork. "I regard Peggy Lee, along with Ella Fitzgerald, as the greatest female interpreter of song," O'Sullivan is quoted as having said. In an interview published by Ireland's Own on its June 12, 2015 issue, he added: "It was an honor to duet with Peggy in the early 1990s, and my new album is a homage to her. The cover of the album is a reproduction of one of her albums in the 1960s, Latin Ala Lee. On it she is pictured linking arms with two male matadors. I'm doing the opposite on the new album cover, linking arms with two female matadors." For a look at the O'Sullivan album's artwork, check both the pictures provided with this section and one or two additional ones, viewable on the page that this discography dedicates to Peggy Lee's guest appearances in other artists' albums, section VII.


Date: September 8-9, 1992
Location: BMG Studio B (Or RCA Studio A), New York
Label: CHESKY

Peggy Lee (ldr), David Chesky (pdr), Bob Katz (eng), Gerry Niewood (f, ss, ts), Jay Berliner (acg, elg), Steve LaSpina, Jay Leonhart (b), Mike Renzi (p), Tony Monte (snt), Peter Grant (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. Master Take (Chesky) I Don't Know Enough About You - 2:46(Dave Barbour, Peggy Lee) / arr: Mike Renzi
CHESKY CDJd 191 — [Various Artists] Jazz For A Literary Mind   (1999)
b. Master Take (Chesky) (I'm) In Love Again - 4:33(Dave Cavanaugh aka Bill Schluger, Cy Coleman, Peggy Lee) / arr: Mike Renzi
c. Master Take (Chesky) Why Don't You Do Right? - 3:36(Joe McCoy) / arr: Mike Renzi
CHESKY CDJd 320 — [Various Artists] Live From Studio A   (2006)
d. Master Take (Chesky) Remind Me - 4:07(Dorothy Fields, Jerome Kern) / arr: Mike Renzi
CHESKY CDnone — [Various Artists] Chesky Records Promotional Sampler   (1993)
CHESKY CDVc 94 — [Various Artists] The Vocal Collection   (1994)
CHESKY CDJd 261 — [Various Artists] Jazz Sexy   (2003)
e. Master Take (Chesky) Moments Like This - 2:35(Burton Lane, Frank Loesser) / arr: Mike Renzi
f. Master Take (Chesky) (Our) Love Is Here To Stay - 4:21(George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) / arr: Mike Renzi
Okom Public Domain CD[no cat. #] — Spotlight On Peggy Lee [n.b.: includes extensive interview]   
g. Master Take (Chesky) Don't Ever Leave Me - 3:20(Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II) / arr: Mike Renzi
h. Master Take (Chesky) Mañana - 3:03(Dave Barbour, Peggy Lee) / arr: Mike Renzi
i. Master Take (Chesky) The Folks Who Live On The Hill - 3:53(Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II) / arr: Mike Renzi
j. Master Take (Chesky) 'S Wonderful - 3:22(George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) / arr: Mike Renzi
k. Master Take (Chesky) Amazing - 3:08(Norman Gimbel, Emil Stern) / arr: Mike Renzi
l. Master Take (Chesky) Do I Love You? - 3:45(Cole Porter) / arr: Mike Renzi
CHESKY CDJd 191 — [Various Artists] Jazz For A Literary Mind   (1999)
m. Master Take (Chesky) You're My Thrill - 4:13(Sidney Clare, Jay Gorney) / arr: Mike Renzi
n. Master Take (Chesky) Always True To You In My Fashion - 2:56(Cole Porter) / arr: Mike Renzi
CHESKY CDJd 270 — [Various Artists] Night Songs She Sings   (2004)
o. Master Take (Chesky) Then Was Then (And Now Is Now) - 4:08(Cy Coleman, Peggy Lee) / arr: Mike Renzi
All titles on:
CHESKY CDJd 84MOMENTS LIKE THIS   (1992)





The Recording Sessions

Peggy Lee's studio sessions for Chesky Records were probably conceived as an attempt at recreating the magic of the very successful concerts that she had been giving at Club 53 during the month of August 1992. Accordingly, the songs chosen for the album were culled from her nightly repertoire at the club.

Perhaps fatigued after more than a month of concert performances, or perhaps beset by her various ailments, the seventy-second-year-old was not in optimal vocal condition at the time of these sessions. Acquaintances of the singer have privately reported that Lee wished to leave the album unreleased, but her contract commitment prevented any steps in that direction. Despite her misgivings about the quality of the work that she had turned in, Lee felt grateful to Chesky Records for their interest and for the opportunity that the label's owners had given to her.


Photos

Above: front and back cover of the Chesky CD Moments Like This. Below: an undated photo of Peggy Lee recording at a RCA studio in New York City. Based on Lee's look, this picture's date can be safely pinpointed as falling between 1988 and 1995, with the early 1990s as likelier than the late 1980s. The strongest candidates are thus this Chesky session and the guest dates for Michael Franks and Gilbert O'Sullivan.

Attire can sometimes help date pictures. Not in this case. Note that all three dates has attached photography in which Lee basically sports the same wear -- leaving aside the extra hat in the relevant picture from the back cover of Moments Like This. In ay case, and given the lack of any additional clues, there is room to speculate that the pictured session is the present one.


Location

1. BMG Studios
2. RCA Studios
In a 1995 piece for Audio magazine, reporter John Gatski notes that "Chesky does not have a recording studio, preferring to pick venues that are comfortable for the musicians and provide a 'live' ambience." Tthe discographical notes of the Chesky CD Moments Like This identifies BMG Studio B as the location at which the album's masters were recorded. Another Chesky CD would seem to suggest otherwise, however.

Live From Studio A is a various-artists compilation whose tracks are collectively listed as recorded in RCA's Studio A. Among those tracks is Peggy Lee's rendition of "Why Don't You Do Right?", taken from her Moments Like This album. (Incidentally, the sound quality of the Lee track is much improved in this 2006 compilation.)

According to the compilation's liner annotator, RCA's Studio A was the studio most regularly used by Chesky. Chesky had first booked it for the label's debut session on November 16, 1988 and was still using it shortly before April 1, 1993, when the studio closed for good.

In the absence of any helpful additional information, it seems sensible to put more trust in the location stated by the Lee CD, Moments Like This. The makers of the compilation Live From Studio A could have erroneously assumed that all Chesky masters recorded between 1988 and early 1993 originated at Studio A. Also tilting the balance toward the Lee CD is the fact that it is far closer in time to the recording date, when the knowledge of details such as the recording venue would still be fresh. (Moments Like This was released in 1992, Live From Studio A in 2006.)

Nevertheless, neither possibility (BMG, RCA) can be discarded for the time being. Bear also in mind the existence of the mysterious RCA studio photo seen below.


Personnel

1. Steve Laspina
2. Jay Leonhart
Two bassists are listed in the personnel credits for the CD Moments Like This.

Steve Laspina played bass on "I Don't Know Enough About You," "Moments Like This," "Mañana," "Amazing," and "Always True To You In My Fashion."

Jay Leonhart's bass is heard in "Why Don't You Do Right?," "(Our) Love Is Here to Stay," " 'S Wonderful," and "Do I Love You?"

Underlying this Laspina-Leonhart distribution is the fact that the album was recorded over two days. Laspina was presumably available one day, Leonhart the other day.

3. Tony Monte
A keyboard synthesizer is played by Tony Monte in "(Our) Love Is Here to Stay," " 'S Wonderful," and "Amazing."


Cross-references

For details about any release of Peggy Lee's Chesky album Moment Like This outside of the United States, consult this discography's foreign issues page.





Masters And Sound Quality

Listeners' reactions to the CD Moments Like This vary considerably. The divergence of opinions can be gathered from the following five excerpts, written by Amazon's online customers:

1. "Peggy Lee's ... voice is a mere warble on this recording. But Lee's inimitable style is very present. Listen to her phrasing on [The] Folks who Live on the Hill and 'S Wonderful. The selections and musicians, led by Mike Renzi, are first rate."

2. "[T]he musicians are great and Peggy delivers some moving treatments on some of these songs, i do wished [sic] they had recorded Peggy live because i heard her sing in 1994 and she sounded wonderful!!"

3. "[S]he sounds barely awake and definitely not on key. In the the [sic] rare moments when she is animated, she is hardly recognizable as the Peggy Lee of years earlier. Also, the orchestration is virtually elevator music."

4. "I'm glad I ignored the critical pans of this, Peggy's last recording session. Indeed, she does sound older than her 72 years, and neither the breath support nor the enveloping breathiness are there any longer. The lyrics are delivered almost sotto voce -- an expiring sigh but with dead-on pitch and communicative story-telling. Don't come to this recording with preconceptions about how Peggy Lee should sound, and you'll discover some compelling revisions and revelations."

5. "If I'm not mistaken, this was Miss Lee's final recording. Unfortunately, her performance is not memorable and the sound quality of the disc is terrible."

For this discographer and fan, Moments Like This is the least successful of Lee's albums. I believe that the project's shortcomings stem from both the singer's diminished capabilities (vocal fatigue, poor health, aging of the vocal instrument) and the label's modus operandi.

Though highly noteworthy in and of itself, the label's recording methodology did not suit the state of the singer's voice at this particular point in time. Like other Chesky CDs, the back cover of Moments Like This bears the legend "[r]ecorded using minimalist miking techniques and without overdubbing or artificial enhancement to ensure the purest and most natural sound possible." According to a biographical statement of purpose in the website of audio mastering engineer Bob Katz, he "specializes in minimalist miking techniques (no overdubs) for capturing jazz and other music that commonly is multimiked."

Expanded commentary about the label's methodology of recording can be found In assistant producer Steve Guttenberg's liner notes for the anthological CD Live from Studio A: The 1988-1993 Chesky Sessions. To quote: "Instead of cloistering them in an isolated booth, we'd have [singers] Ana Caram, John Pizzarelli, or Kenny Rankin out in the studio, singing into the same AKG mike that we used for the rest of the band." As someone who preferred to carry her own mike, and who appreciated isolation booths because they allowed her to turn in more intimate-sounding interpretations, Lee might have objected. "The sound was committed to two-track analogue and digital tape live (without any overdubs)," continues Guttenberg, "so there was never any chance to 'fix the mix' ... The sound we heard over the monitor speakers was pressed onto the CDs."

Producer David Chesky indeed pridd himself on following a purist approach to recording. When interviewed in 2004 for the webzine Allaboutjazz.com, he elaborated on his method as follows: "It’s sort of like black and white photography. We take a picture of an event and capture it in a moment of time. Through a clear lens, not through a rose-colored lens. We don’t sit there and say, OK, let’s overdub this. Call this guy in ... A recording is supposed to capture that moment in time. That’s what it’s supposed to do. That’s our mantra. We stick to that. Some people like it and some people don’t ... I worked for years in the studio, right? They always had 9 million microphones all over the place. One in the tuba bell, one in the piano, etc., etc. And when you hear it in the mix, it sounded so weird to me. You had to put the balance together. And when I was standing on the podium, it sounded fantastic. So I said, if I ever start a company I’m going to do an audiophile from a one-point perspective. Like you’re there. So that’s when we developed the stereo MS mic technique. So the orchestra gets the balance and that’s it." A musician through and through, Chesky's approach unquestionably deserves commendation; it has resulted in some wonderful albums.

But Lee's Moments Like This is not one of them. The following impressions, shared by fans of Lee at her official website, should give a fairly comprehensive -- if opinionated -- picture of the technical areas in which the CD scores low:

1. "[U]pon release [it] received criticism for its sound quality, suggesting that the Chesky label, in a quest for presenting a pure voice, allowed little or no reverb. Thus, we were told we were hearing Peg's undoctored voice. In any case, she sounds miles away from a microphone on this one."

2. "[I]f you turn up the volume to hear her more, the instruments become too loud, especially sax ... What I don't like with Moments is the recording technique. However I think Do I Love You and Always True are excellent, and some of the ballads, e.g. You're My Thrill and Then Was Then.

3. "The miking is appalling, the whole thing would have benefited greatly by editing Miss Lee's continual slurring."

4. "If you listen to Moments Like This with earphones you will hear a much better album. The sad part was that it was a studio album. The live performance at [Club 53] was the best Peggy performance I had ever seen. When they said they where doing an album, I assumed it would be live. She was in great form during that run."

5. "[T]he sound quality is a bit iffy and off. And sometimes, had I been the producer, I might have requested an additional take. For instance, Peggy's first notes on Amazing were a bit tentative as recorded, when they were more sure during her 'live' performances. Possibly by then she needed audience feedback for inspiration. She had become much more anecdotal during her appearances ... There are numerous satisfying details in Moments Like This, not the least of which are the personable, conversational elements in the title song. The brush-stroke minimalism contributes to the personal, confessional tone of the album ... 'S Wonderful has an authentic autobiographic air about it; the musing gratitude seems genuine. And Peggy's exquisite timing is still very much in evidence."

The last two comments, made by Sean Connors and Kevin Koerper, are particularly savvy. Since both gentlemen saw Lee perform shortly before the album was recorded, their comments carry special weight.


Date: August 26, 1995
Location: Group IV Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Label: MUSICMASTERS/Amreco

Benny Carter (ldr), Ed Berger, Danny Kapilian (pdr), Angel L. Balestier, Eric Cowden (eng), Benny Carter (as), John Heard (b), Gene DiNovi (p), Sherman Ferguson (d), Peggy Lee (v)

a. Master Take (MusicMasters) I See You - 4:48(Benny Carter, Kaye Parker) / arr: {Head Arrangement}
MUSICMASTERS/Amreco CS/CD01612 65134 4/2 [also 01612 65172] — [Benny Carter] THE BENNY CARTER SONGBOOK, VOLUME I   (1996)





The Benny Carter Recording Sessions

MusicMasters' two volumes of The Benny Carter Songbook feature nearly 20 vocalists, each singing one or two songs by the eponymous composer, musician, conductor, and arranger. Some of those singers (Carmen Bradford, Diana Krall, Diane Reeves, Wesla Whitfield) came in after they were recommended by their managers or specifically recruited by producer Danny Kapilian, whereas Carter himself appears to have requested the presence of others who were friends or favorites of his (Peggy Lee, Nancy Marano, Marlena Shaw and, especially, Joe Williams). All but one of them recorded their respective numbers either in late June (NY) or in late July 1995 (LA). According to Kapilian, "Peggy Lee, one of Carter's oldest friends, made it to the studio last of all to deliver the most fragile version imaginable of Benny Carter's I See You."

In his liner notes for the first of the two songbooks, producer Kapilian further reminisces about the origins of the project: "Toward the end of 1994, MusicMasters president Jeffrey Nissim approached me with a new challenge. 'The legendary jazz altoist and arranger Benny Carter,' Jeff said to me, 'is an underappreciated songwriter. Would you like to help to bring together appropriate singers to record Benny's songs live in the studio with Benny and his group?' This was apparently a project that had been discussed for some time. I was then completing work on the album For The Love Of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson, an appreciation of a very different style of songwriter ... I'd never met Benny, though ... [I]n early January '95, I visited Benny at his home in Los Angeles for the first time ... This was plainly a project very close to Benny's heart. Together with his long-time friend and producer Ed Berger, and with assistance with Benny's wonderful wife Hilma, we started in earnest the task ... My requests for lead sheets of his songs yielded new ones which had never been put on paper, a few that had never been recorded, and others for which Benny wrote new lyrics."

In the second edition of his book Benny Carter: A Life In American Music (co-written with Morroe Berger and James Patrick), main author Ed Berger writes at length about the sessions. As the co-producer of the dates -- and as Carter's friend and road manager during the last period of his career -- Berger is particularly well qualified to talk about the project's development and completion. The extensive excerpt that follows comes from his book:

"As a first step, lists of potential vocalists were compiled and matched with lists of potential songs. A demo was prepared of new material that had never been recorded. Before contacting the vocalists, a weeding out process was undertaken. The label, Carter, and the producers proposed possible singers and eventually all parties agreed upon approximately 20 names. Danny Kapilian contacted the singers (or their managers) to work out the logistics. Carter had known some of them (Joe Williams, Peggy Lee, Bobby Short) for decades. Others he met for the first time in the studio. Because of the large number of usually highly paid performers involved, MusicMasters proposed to pay each singer a modest honorarium, plus expenses. The response was overwhelmingly positive."

"The singers were each given copies of a demo cassette, along with lead sheets for one or two suggested songs. In most cases, they went along with the selections ... Three days of recording were scheduled in New York and three in Los Angeles to produce enough material for two CDs to be issued a year or so apart. Since rehearsals had not been feasible, all the arrangements had to be worked out on the spot, although Carter occasionally sketched out an intro or ending for the horns."

"All the singers recorded live with the band. Apart from the occasional re-recording of a vocal passage, the only overdubbing occurred in We Were In Love, where some improvised fills between the two horns seems too busy behind the Diane Reeves - Joe Williams vocal duet. Some preferred to complete the songs in one or two takes. Others redid portions ... Bobby Short, for example, was not happy with his initial performance [and thus he asked for another take] ..."

"Carter was particularly grateful to hear Joe Williams' interpretation of I Was Wrong. Carter had written the song some 20 years earlier with Williams in mind and was visibly moved by the singer's rendition."

"Carter was also very pleased that his old friend Peggy Lee was able to take part despite serious health problems. She arrived in a wheelchair with a portable oxygen tank and her own microphone. True professionalism and indomitable spirit triumphed over physical frailty in I See You, a piece that Carter had written with Kay Parker in the 1940s but which had never been recorded. Whenever Carter tried to lay out, Lee insisted that he play continuously behind her throughout the track, seeming to draw strength from his presence."

"I'd say that Miss Peggy Lee is icing on the cake," added Carter himself during his Benny Carter Forever In Tune interview with Joseph Woodard, for the April 1996 issue of the magazine Jazz Times.





Photos

Top: Benny Carter and Peggy Lee, at the recording session. The original photo is actually in black & white; the coloring might have not be reflective of reality in this artificially colorized version. For instance, Carter's shirt was probably red, not black. Right above: the two CD volumes of songs written by Benny Carter, released by MusicMasters in 196 and 1997. Peggy Lee appears only in the first volume, whose frontal yellow sticker lists that songbook's entire roster of guest vocalists in alphabetical order.


Songs

1. "I See You"
Peggy Lee was 75 years old when she sang "I See You," her final studio recording. There was no more studio activity after this date. (A concert engagement at the Hollywood Bowl took place on this same month, though, and there are vague reports of local live appearances between 1995 and 1997.) This song's evocative lyrics suitably cap Lee's long, inspired career in the world of music: "I see you, everywhere / You're a flower blooming / A rose perfuming the air. / When I hear music played / There you are in every soothing serenade. / Like a star shining bright, / Near or far, you're never out of my sight. / From the sea to the sky above, / I see you through the misty eyes of love."






Peggy Lee At [David And Norman's] Chesky Records


The Manhattan-based audiophile label Chesky Records was set up by a pair of Miami-raised brothers in 1986. While David Chesky took care of the artistic and musical production, Norman Chesky concentrated on the business side of the enterprise. A composer and pianist who studied with both David Del Tredici and John Lewis when he was 17, the oldest of the brothers has long been cultivating an artistic career concurrently with his duties as a label co-owner. In the 1970s, he had a fusion-oriented group (The David Chesky Band), for which his younger brother Norman (also musically oriented) served as manager. They grabbed an one-album contract with Columbia Records in 1979.

Their Rush Hour was released in 1980 without making a lasting impression at large, yet still turning substantial profit for the brothers. The album's titular track happened to catch the attention of a CBS sports producer, who began to play it regularly on television. At the sight of the royalty check's four-digit figure, the amazed brothers came up with the notion of creating an instrumental record for sports events, with David aptly playing the grooves and Norman promoting and licensing it to TV stations. Thus was born Manhattan Production Music, the brothers' first company.

To further supplement his income, David spent these years working as a studio musician and as an orchestrator for film and television. The notion of setting up his own record label soon took hold on him. A contributing factor was his first exposure to a set of master tapes. Reader's Digest had transferred the tapes for release of an album which sounded to him like a faint, pale representation of the actual masters. Also lingering in Chesky's mind, and contributing to the impetus for the creation of a new record label, was frustration at his lack of control over the material that he had recorded for Columbia.

After siblings consultation, the brothers proceeded with the idea. The Ches record label debuted with a series of reissues, remastered from the classical catalogues of Reader's Digest and RCA. Next they tried their hand at producing sessions, leasing RCA's Studio A for that purpose. In late 1988, jazz violinist John Frigo became the first artist to record for the label, accompanied by John and Bucky Pizzarelli. The resulting album, Live From Studio A in New York City, was released in 1989. Sessions by Earl Wild, Clark Terry and Phil Woods followed soon thereafter. The first female vocalist to record for the label was Brazilian artist Ana Caram; she was followed by Natasha Turner, Sarah K., Laverne Butler, and, finally, Peggy Lee.

Asked by an interviewer about the process of selecting artists to record for the label, David Chesky explained that "[s]ometimes people come to me, and sometimes I find them. We have a lot of famous jazz artists on this label, but we also have some other interesting artists. I believe there are two kinds of music: good and bad. I sign who I like. I often go by my initial gut reaction." Presumably, David Chesky attended one of Lee's concert performances at Club 53, where she was performing around the time of this session. Or, otherwise, he might have extended a recording invitation after learning about the very favorable reception that her show had been earning. The exact details are not known, but a September 14, 1992 Associated Press article makes a passing reference to the subject matter. AP reporter Mary Campbell states that Lee had "just finished selling out a five-week engagement at Club 53 in the New York Hilton ... During the last week, Chesky Records gave her a contract to record the whole show."

As of this writing (2019), Chesky continues to operate, especially through its high-resolution digital download store, HDtracks. Building on the low-resolution (MP3) music-sharing model forged by Napster and iTunes, Chesky pioneered instead high-resolution, 24-bit/96Hz downloads. Along the way, there have been several Grammy nominations, as well as awards from other organizations. The label can also boast about their production of Macy Gray's 2016 debut album, which peaked at #3 on Billboard's jazz album chart, and even more recent top 12 Billboard albums by Casey Abrams and City Of The Sun.


Peggy Lee As A Guest Performer: With Michael Franks, Gilbert O'Sullivan, And Benny Carter

In addition to her 1992 album for Chesky Records, Peggy Lee recorded three guests vocals during the 1990s. All three guest spots were made for inclusion in albums by male performers: Michael Franks (1992), Gilbert O'Sullivan (1992), and Benny Carter (1995).





The Michael Franks Connection

Michael Franks had grown up listening to Peggy Lee and to other smooth, cool singers. Back when he was an adolescent (i.e., in the early 1960s), his parents' musical tastes "leaned toward vocalists of the day like June Christy and Peggy Lee," reminisced Franks during an interview for the liner notes of his 2007 CD Rendezvous In Rio. (He also remembered being exposed to the folk and blues tunes that were popular at the time. The trigger for those reminiscences is a pair of numbers included in the CD, "The Cool School" and "Hearing 'Take Five'," both written by him. Franks further recalls the effect that Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" and Mose Allison's "Your Mind's On Vacation" had on him upon first listening, at a friend's home: he felt awakened to a kind of music that sounded brand new and exciting to him. In short, the teenage Franks was heavily influenced by west coast jazz -- especially as interpreted by Brubeck, Chet Baker and a few others -- and by hip or cool artists such as Mose Allison.) Franks, whose entire music catalogue is comprised of self-written songs,

In an interview for smoothviews.com (conducted by Shannon West on November 16, 2006), Franks further shared the following: "I always loved Peggy Lee. After I made The Art of Tea [1976] and I was getting ready to go on the road, I worked with this great guitarist named John Pisano who was going to put a band together for me. I was completely green then. I’d worked as a duo and a solo, but I’d never thought of a band or anything like that. He was Peggy Lee’s musical director and he played some of my stuff for Peggy. Then he asked me if I’d like to meet her. We went up to her house one afternoon and it was just phenomenal to meet her, to meet someone I’d just idolized. Over the years I was blessed to get to know Peggy and correspond with her. She recorded one of my songs which was a thrill, and I got to have her on one of my records so I actually got to know her from that point on, which was amazing." A Robinsong was the Franks tune that Lee recorded in 1979, "You Were Mean For Me" the number that the two of them did together in 1992.





The Gilbert O'Sullivan Connection

That same year (1992), Peggy Lee received yet another male singer-songwriter's invitation to do guest vocal work. Like Michael Franks, Gilbert O'Sullivan had also been well acquainted with Lee's work for decades. Or so O'Sullivan told to concertgoers during his 2008-2010 tours. The motivation for O'Sullivan's remark is a video of him and Lee that he plays for his audiences in the middle of his shows. The video features the two singer-songwriters performing his composition "Can't Think Straight," accompanied by a full orchestra. On most evenings, O'Sullivan would preface the video with the following commentary: "Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein. These are fantastic people, as well as contemporary people like Bacharach and David, Lennon and McCartney, Goffin and King and such ... And of course to hear those songs you have to get the interpreters, the best interpreters of those songs. And I think the best male interpreter is Frank Sinatra. Or if we place female interpreters, we're down to Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee. In 1992 I had this song that I wanted to do as a duet. I didn't really want to use a contemporary artist. So I talked to Peggy. I mean I had lots of her albums not so much because I liked her; it's the fact that she was singing these great songs; she was the best [for ? __] ... So we wrote the lyric and she called us up and said, 'well, let me hear the song. If I like it, we'll record it.' At that time Peggy was 70 years of age. So when we sent her the song she called us -- yes, she liked it and she'd like to do it. So we flew to NY and recorded it ... And Peggy was quite frail. She was 70 years of age. She was in a wheel chair and she had to use an oxygen mask. That was a slight shock to us all; on the other hand, we treated her like a queen ... It was a fantastic couple of days. So because it was so special I filmed it for a video just to have for keepsake."

During an earlier discussion (2000) of "Can't Think Straight" at a Gilbert O'Sullivan fansite, one of his admirers also gave the following report, which for the most part mirrors the comments made by the artist himself in concert: "[o]n a radio interview, he said that he did the song with Peggy Lee because she was one of his favourite female artists and that she was one of the best female interpreters of songs, he always wanted to sing a duet with her ... He says that he phoned her at her home in California, she was 72 at the time, she was very interested. So they met up in NY and 'pampered her for a few days' took her in the studio, for her part of the song and did the video."





The Benny Carter Connection

Benny Carter and Peggy Lee had known one another since the 1940s. They had been playing together in concert and in the recording studio since at least 1947. That year, she sang his composition "Lonely Woman" in a AFRS show that they did together; it might have been the very first public performance of the number. Also that year, he participated in her Rendezvous With Peggy Lee sessions, both as a sax player and as an arranger. Further work together, both in the studio and in concert, would take place in the 1950s and the 1960s.

When the idea to record a Benny Carter songbook was green-lighted at MusicMasters, Peggy Lee was among the vocalists invited to do one or two of the numbers. She did one, titled "I See You," and was the last singer to make it to the studio for this particular project. According to Carter's bio-discographer Ed Berger, the musician was "very pleased that his old friend Peggy Lee was able to take part despite serious health problems."





Photos

Top: all about Chesky Records -- the label's logo, and the label's founders. The latter are first seen separately (and at leisure), then together at work (possibly 1650 Broadway, Suite 900). The two work office photos are courtesy of Philip Greenspun, who took them in 1994. (For larger versions of these photos, visit Greenspun's interesting, informative website, which also includes a worthwhile weblog.) Middle photography: Made available online around 2019, a shot of Michael Franks in his home garden, with the surrounding woods on the background. Also, a mid-twenties Gilbert O'Sullivan, in one of many publicity shots probably taken in late 1970, when the United Kingdom enjoyed the release of his debut hit single, "Nothing Rhymed." Right above: Benny Carter at home, around 1990, and posing by an impressive record collection of jazz and swing music, in 1989. Specifics such such as the ownership and location of the record collection are unknown to me; it could be part of the holdings at the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies, in New Jersey. Be that as it may, the several albums which I can identify are from Pablo Records, and feature Carter.

Below: Peggy Lee during the last two years of heightened activity in her career. The pictures that find her in good-company are from 1994, the pictures of a solo Lee from 1995. She posed next to the Peggy Lee rose while at a New York press conference, held on June 22, 1995 (on the occasion of her upcoming appearance at Carnegie Hall, three days later). The snapshot of a ponytailed Lee probably dates from either that same month or early the next one; she was at a Steve & Eydie reception, announcing that they would be receiving the Society of Singers' award that year (1995). Peggy Lee had received the award (May 9, 1994). At the 1994 gala event, she was happy to be amidst wonderful fellow artists who were also genuine admirers of hers, such as the urbane blues sophisticate Joe Willams and that Canadian rocking-country, smoking-smoky ingénue, k.d. lang.






Sessions Reported: 4

Performances Reported: 18

Unique Songs Reported: 18

Unique Issues Reported: 22