Stacy Sullivan sang her tribute cabaret to the immortal Peggy Lee at The Crazy Coqs for some of he great lady’s family! Read it here
“..sings jazz numbers in the way.. jazz should be sung in a cabaret setting”
Award –winning singer Stacy Sullivan premièred her tribute to the great Peggy Lee last night, bringing to us some of the work that has taken such prominent place in jazz and popular music over six decades.
Stacy Sullivan is cabaret artist KT Sullivan’s sister, the 7th child of a large, noisy and very musical family. Perhaps uncharacteristically, she started her show quietly, unaccompanied with the piano and double bass gradually joining her later in Lee and Barbour’s ‘I Don’t Know Enough About You’, finishing unexpectedly with a blackout. This arresting effect set the atmosphere for the evening.
Stacy makes good use of drama and soundscape, certainly for the first half of the show, with the musicians using their instruments to build the sound of trains, which played a significant role in Peggy Lee’s life, leading to a jazz medley of ‘I Got Rhythm’ and ‘My Romance’.
Being a tribute, we learned things about Peggy Lee along the way, including how she developed a wiggle – she was self-conscious about her hands, apparently, and held them behind her back.
Whilst Stacy sang many of the Lee standards one expects, there were also some unusual gems rarely heard. One that particularly stood out was the passionate, searching ‘Where Did They Go?’ by Harry Lloyd and Gloria Sklerov released towards the end of her career. It had a peculiarly European flavour to it, almost Weimar, and I learned from Musical Director Jon Weber that it had in fact been done in German at one time.
Stacy is a lovely performer to watch- very assured and understated. The more dramatic numbers suited her particularly well, and she often put that stamp onto some of Lee’s better known songs such as the usually gentle and reflective ‘Johnny Guitar’.
Stacy conveyed Lee’s courage, strength and sexuality most effectively. Another dimension she might like to add is a greater portrayal of Lee’s dry acerbic wit to create a more balanced tribute. She sings jazz numbers in the way I feel jazz should be sung in a cabaret setting. She was communicative, employing both the lyrics and play on rhythm and tempo to tell the story. A good example was Irving Berlin’s ‘Cheek to Cheek’ rendered soft and sexy, moving into an upbeat swing, and returning to a sensuous style, all the time playing with the musicians, both in terms of performance and musicality.
She ended with ‘Fever’ beautifully capturing Lee’s smouldering quality to a fairly quiet, but undoubtedly appreciative audience.
Photos by Marcos Bevilacqua