Lee and Benny Goodman:
The Complete Recordings, 1941-1947
Columbia/Legacy, United States, #C2K-65686 (2 CDs)
Released June 15, 1999
Elmer's Tune / I See a Million People (But All I Can See Is
You) / That's the Way It Goes / I Got It Bad (And That Ain't
Good) / My Old Flame / How Deep Is the Ocean? / Shady Lady
Bird / Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love) / Somebody Else Is
Taking My Place / Somebody Nobody Loves / How Long Has This
Been Going On? / That Did It, Marie / Winter Weather / Ev'rything
I Love / Not Mine / Not a Care in the World / My Old Flame
/ How Deep Is the Ocean / Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)
Blues in the Night / Where or When / On the Sunny Side of
the Street / The Lamp of Memory (Incertidumbre) / If
You Build a Better Mousetrap / When the Roses Bloom Again
/ My Little Cousin / The Way You Look Tonight / I Threw a
Kiss in the Ocean / We'll Meet Again / Full Moon (Noche
de Luna) / There Won't Be a Shortage on Love / You're
Easy to Dance With / All I Need Is You / Why Don't You Do
Right? / Let's Say a Prayer / The Freedom Train / Keep Me
in Mind / For Every Man There's a Woman
Review by Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner, July
Peggy Lee has for years been ensconced in the pantheon of popular
and/or jazz singers, with most of her continuing popularity based
on recordings she made for Capitol Records during the 1950s-'70s.
But for those who have followed American popular music and its
performers since the pre-Pearl Harbor years, Lee's vocals with the
Benny Goodman band are among her top performances.
Twenty-year-old Norma Egstrom from North Dakota was singing in
a trio at Chicago's Ambassador Hotel in August 1941. Benny Goodman's
band, with singer Helen Forrest, was appearing at the Hotel Sherman
a few blocks away.
Forrest quit the Goodman job to join Harry James; Goodman, who
lodged at the Ambassador, liked what he heard from Egstrom and hired her. At the same meeting, he changed her name to Peggy Lee [sic]
and gave her sheet music for a song he expected her to record with
the band a few days later for Columbia Records.
The date was Aug. 15, 1941; the song, "Elmer's Tune." Although
Glenn Miller's recording of the song, cut in New York four days
earlier for RCA Victor's Bluebird label, was the bigger hit, the
Goodman-Lee version (backed by Eddie Sauter's classy instrumental
arrangement of "Birth of the Blues") sold nearly as well.
Columbia was delighted, and although it required a dozen takes
for Lee to settle down and produce an issueable rendition, Goodman
was also pleased with the result.
And Peggy Lee was on her way.
The two CDs in this set run chronologically and include all the
sides Lee and Goodman recorded for Columbia (some issued on the
Columbia label, most on Okeh), as well as three weak 1947 Capitol
sides involving the two of them that might well have been left off
Interestingly, her first recording of "Elmer's Tune" was a big
hit, and her last for Columbia, "Why Don't You Do Right," was an
even bigger hit. Among the 32 renditions in between are such memorable
ones as "My Old Flame," "How Deep Is the Ocean," "Let's Do It,"
"That Did It, Marie," "Blues in the Night," "Where or When," "Sunny
Side of the Street," "The Way You Look Tonight," "We'll Meet Again"
and "All I Need is You."
Lee's voice here is stronger (younger), her range broader than
in later years, but among Disc One's early numbers is "Somebody
Else Is Taking My Place," on which she displays the distinctive,
slightly sharp, soft and mellow voice that would identify her for
Her lifetime ability to utilize harmonic variations in her vocals
came, in part, from the 1941-42 material she sang over Sauter's
very busy, technically advanced arrangements. His scoring of "Shady
Lady Bird," "Somebody Else Is Taking My Place," "How Deep Is the
Ocean" and others is fascinating and complex.
Many of the other songs on this set were arranged by the young
piano genius Mel Powell, who was a few months younger than Lee.
His relatively loose scores tended to swing more than Sauter's –
listen to "Let's Do It," "How Long Has This Been Going On?" and
the knockout "Why Don't You Do Right?" for examples.
The Goodman Sextet during Lee's tenure with the band was a far
cry from the 1939-41 recording group that included guitarist Charlie
Christian, trumpeter Cootie Williams and other superstars. But with
trombonists Lou McGarity and Cutty Cutshall, pianist Powell and
Goodman's clarinet featured, Lee recorded four numbers with the
late-1941 Goodman Sextet — a sensuous "Blues in the Night," the
bright "Sunny Side of the Street," a floating "Way You Look Tonight"
(Powell arrangement) and the most stunning, glorious version ever
recorded of Rodgers and Hart's "Where or When."
Read Ivan Santiago's review in the
September, 1999 issue of Songbirds