The Man I Love / If You Go
Import, Reissued, Remastered
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Audio CD, Import, Original recording reissued, February 26, 1997
Digitally remastered edition of 2LP's on a single CD of two truly classic albums from one of the greatest female vocalists of all time. Miss Lee made more than 700 recordings and more than 60 albums. Her own favorite album, 'The Man I Love,' was recorded in 1957 with arrangements by Nelson Riddle and an orchestra conducted by Frank Sinatra . 'If You Go' includes laid back themes with stunnning arrangements from Quincy Jones.
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I think she was born singing. She is not not only a incredible great Hot jazz singer but her voice is just incredibly sexy.
She is one fine bundle of a Lady top to bottom,
I have many of her CD's just like I do Julie London's.
These are two of the women in America who set the standard and bar for what constitutes a Jazz Singer, not a club singer but a real Jazz singer.
She is as instrumental in Jazz being accepted as Billie Holiday is in Blues.
If you have not heard her, ,,
Well You are fired, go to your room and stay there until one of her CD's arrives.
When you come out after listening to her you will be getting what I am telling you.
This is another classic artist who was there when the standards for excellent Jazz singers was established.
I could not do with her , Julie London , Eartha Kit, Carmen McRae and of course Nina Simone.
There are more but this group comes to mind now.
It's like buying a fine dinner in a fine restaurant with fine entertainment when you have the opportunity to spend time with one of these ladies.
THE MAN I LOVE (1957 mono and pre-"Fever") is one of the greater Capitol concept albums (not excluding the cover art), Lee's first after (wisely) leaving conservative Decca. The overall mood is similar, overlapping lower-budget Decca recordmaking, but the Capitol production values are noticeably higher, and Lee successfully finesses the artistic transition back to her more progressive home label. Apart from the titular Gershwin, Peggy pays tribute to two vitally important composers, Harold Arlen ("Happiness is a thing called Joe") and Jerome Kern ("The folks who live on the hill," in its definitive interpretation and orchestration). Riddle's chart for the great Kern standard became permanently embedded in the Lee playlist, reprised nostalgically twenty years on (LIVE IN LONDON) and in an incredibly rapt 1960s broadcast performance on the IN CONCERT SERIES DVD of unauthorized clips. Riddle's keeper arrangements, particularly for the Kern, are among his finest and consistently equal or surpass those he crafted for Sinatra. Regrettably Peggy Lee did not work more often with Riddle (JUMP FOR JOY is their 1958 sequel album). Still the creamiest elite of Hollywood arrangers, not excluding her special chums Victor Young and Quincy Jones, queued up regularly to collaborate with this extraordinary acting singer/singing actor possessed with unerring musicianship. (The epitaph at her Westwood gravesite reads, simply, "Music is my life's breath.")
By 1961 Peggy Lee had latterly made the superb PRETTY EYES with Billy May--my choice for one indispensably perfect Peggy Lee ballad album--and now cast herself in new concept parameters with hip new charts. IF YOU GO (in excellent stereo) is programmed in the old Decca/early Capitol lounge standards mode, but Jones' streetwise charts are fresh and lively, emphasizing the band's woodwind choir and heralding the bright, bouncy pop-hipster albums that sustained Lee's reputation through the rest of the decade. This playlist is slightly weaker than usual, but Lee and Jones make a convincing case for their choices, especially the ultraminimalist--no strings--take on Irving Berlin's rather neglected "Say it isn't so," another definitive track. The second Lee-Jones collaboration, BLUES CROSS COUNTRY, also 1961, takes greater risks and contains dandy new Lee-Jones songs, but IF YOU GO is one of Peggy Lee's more neglected concept albums, the Jones connection was personally and musically significant in the singer's career arc and the album surely deserves this digital lease on life.
Appreciating Peggy Lee's place among the giants (Peter Richmond, in his recent biography, calls her the greatest female jazz/pop singer of the 20th century) requires attending to her interpretations of the classic and timeless repertory that she laid down on LPs for both Decca and Capitol. These two Capitol albums--the first with orchestrations tended to by Nelson Riddle and Frank Sinatra; the second, with Quincy Jones responsible for the settings--represent a good start on a project of collecting that, providing the recording companies cooperate, will require a few years to complete. But the reward is considerable. There are few, if any other, singers one can listen to for four or more hours without the least bit of "listener fatigue."
None of the giants among American singers is as "economical" as Peggy. Pick out a standard that's been done by several or more vocalists and just compare. Peggy's is bound to be the briefest, yet there's never a sense of incompleteness, of anything missed or left undone. She gets the story told without an extra chorus of Gordon Jenkins' strings or needless reprises of the same lyric. And she's not afraid of fast tempos (her mental drummer is closer to Art Blakey than to Sinatra's "in the pocket" Basie-style time-keeper). And apparently she had no use for the "3-minute rule" of most commercial recordings: if the final result is less than 2 minutes, so be it. No fat or meat-extenders, just the protein.
In collecting Lee, it's good to remember that the intimate, "breathy" Lee sound required focus, strength and control. The sound is practically unfailingly perfect from 1950-1970, after which Peggy doesn't have the breath support and physical reserves to sustain it consistently (though some of her recordings from the 1980s still pay dividends despite the undeniably tired sound of the voice and the critical sniping). And despite the presence of Quincy Jones on the second half of this double feature, this package does not include what for some of us is Peggy's single most beautiful recording, a song written by Peggy with Johnny Mandel and said to be inspired by Q: "The Shining Sea" (it's well worth the research required to hunt it down. Last I saw, it was on the oop album, "Blues Cross Country").
[Good heavens--now I see this one is no longer available. Don't count on finding these songs in any of those "Best of... " anthologies. Maybe we're doomed as a civilization, after all.]