The cellist Peggy Lee has been – with The Peggy Lee Band – very prolific in a composing career that has stretched across several years and, with A Giving Way, six riveting albums. Her work is always deeply thoughtful and often radiantly effusive, a sort of synthesis with masses of seething counterpoint set in a seemingly perfect acoustical sound-world. The songs played here are typical of the elegant compositions, innovatively interpretated, with richly laced textures and extravagant climaxes by musicians who – by virtue of their long-term association with Lee – know her music almost intimately.
This is repertoire full of the slithering and bittersweet glissandos of Lee’s cello, the elegant burbling of brass and winds from Brad Turner, Jeremy Berkman and Jon Bentley respectively. Together they make a joyful noise with guitarists Ron Samworth and Tony Wilson, with the tumbling rhythms of André Lachance’s bass guitar and rattle, hum and sizzle of Dylan van der Schyff’s drums and cymbals.
It is difficult to fathom why Lee is not better known for the eloquence and uniqueness of the music that she creates around the solemn atmosphere of her cello. Perhaps this may have something to do with attempting to define it in terms of this genre or that. However, the uniquely beautiful sonorities of (for instance) Internal Structures, Justice / Honour; even the interpretation of Whispering Pines, and other songs on A Giving Way, show Lee to be an artist with a breathtakingly singular voice.