George Shearing’s and Peggy Lee’s “Beauty and the Beat“, recorded May 28-30, 1959, is one of those CDs that grew so much on me that it has managed to move from the depths of my collection to a permanent place next to my stereo where I keep, at most, 15 CDs. This one has been there for over three years … and counting
If you like the Shearing sound (I love it) and know how a good a singer Peggy Lee really was (I do), this is a perfect recording, albeit with a strange history. Originally, it was billed as a live recording (of a date that was recorded but had sound problems), with dubbed-in announcements, applause, chatter and echo. Michael Cuscuna and Ron McMaster “freed” this absolutely stellar recording from all of that and what we have here is what I would call a perfect album (which is radically different in sound from its original release). Not a note too many, a sublime Lee, who would have been extremely happy to see two favorites of hers restored to the album, “Nobody’s Heart” (Richard Rodgers) and “Don’t Ever Leave Me” (Jerome Kern).
John Bush over on allmusic.com called this “[…] a supremely chilled session of late-night blues from two masters of the form.” Yes, it is. And more. It’s two people working together who should have recorded a lot more but, unfortunately, never have. The 72 hours of rehearsal that Shearing and Lee put into this effort before the live recording and which helped make this favorite of mine possible, really paid off. Highly recommended, if you are into this sort of thing.
Personnel: Peggy Lee (vocals), George Shearing (piano), Ray Alexander (vibes), Toots Thielemanns (guitar), Carl Pruitt (bass), Ray Mosca (drums), Armando Peraza (congas, percussion). Produced by: David Cavenaugh. Reissue produced by: Cy Godfrey and Michael Cusuna. Remixed from the original 3-track tapes and mastered by: Ron McMaster. Capitol/Blue Note, 2003. Capitol Jazz 7243 5 42308 2-0.