i. My name: Peggy Lee
ii. I am a: Musician
iii. Other ways I would describe myself: Cellist, composer, improvisor
iv. A day in my artistic life looks like:
These days I’ll usually begin by playing low long tones against open string drones to bring my ears, hands and instrument into some sort of agreement.
After that, it varies… I might be practicing music for an upcoming gig. If not, I may be working on a composition in progress or beginning to write something new, usually on piano or guitar.
Some days there will be a rehearsal, a recording session or performance, but lately, there hasn’t been much of that, so I have been taking in a good number of shows as a listener.
Photo by Victoria Johnson
v. Childhood city/town + hobbies:
Music and hockey!
I grew up in Toronto, and music was always in the house, but my siblings and I also benefited from the neighbourhood public schools, which had strong orchestral and choral music programs.
I played ice hockey in an all-girls league in the 1970s, one of the first, I believe. I also took group guitar lessons in primary school, and occasionally, if time was tight between the lesson and hockey practice, I’d have to play the lesson in full hockey gear.
vi. Where I live now + how that affects my art:
I am currently splitting time between Vancouver and Melbourne, Australia.
I don’t know if I would have pursued improvisation and/or composition if I hadn’t landed in Vancouver. The scene was and is very open and welcoming of new voices, and there was great support coming from players, presenters and music lovers alike. I was lucky enough to start playing with musicians that were writing their own music, which really appealed to me, and I was encouraged to do the same. By the way, that is something that was actually really frowned upon where I went to classical music school (at the Faculty of music U of T). But that was a long time ago, and hopefully, things have changed there.
In Melbourne, where I am a newcomer, it feels like a bit of a renewal as I’ve been going out a lot and hearing new sounds and voices.
There are so many cool little venues here putting on really interesting music, so there’s great incentive for people to work hard and try new things.
Spells for Chinatown Trailer. Music by Peggy Lee, dancing Sarah Wong, Justin Calvaderos, Ziyian Kwan
vii. Recent projects I’m excited about:
There’s a new album coming out with Erika Angell and Roisin Adams, which I’m really looking forward to sharing.
Also, before I left Vancouver, I was part of some great recording projects led by Alvaro Rojas, Ron Samworth and Josh Zubot. I’m interested to hear how those ones are going.
viii. At the Jazz Festival, you’ll see me/us:
Lots this year!
June 24 with Darius Jones at the Ironworks
June 28 with Like The Mind at Ironworks
June 29 with Wayne Horvitz at Ironworks
June 30 with the Peggy Lee Band at Pyatt Hall
Peggy Lee Band @ Pyatt Hall
Pyatt Hall. Photo by Louise Ironside
July 2 with Great Aunt Ida at the Performance Works
July 3 with Beatings Are In The Body at the Roundhouse, and
July 3 with Alvaro Rojas at David Lam Park
ix. What I’m most looking forward to in performing at the Jazz Festival:
All of the above!
x. Future shows or projects:
I have two recording projects that I am looking forward to delving into when I get back to Vancouver. One is a project with guitarist/composer Cole Schmidt. Over the pandemic, we had an exchange going where we would each record something remotely and then pass it to the other to add their voice. We created a lot of repertoire, which we are now going to pass on to various third parties to add to. It’s going to be fun hearing where the music will go.
I am also recording a new record with my longstanding band, The Peggy Lee Band. This project has been in the works for several years, so I am very ready to stop tweaking the music and to let the band members bring their unique gifts to the recording.
xi. Anything to add:
To find out more about my performances at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, please visit the website at www.coastaljazz.ca.
I also see some links and music on her website – Film in Music – Peggy Lee – Cellist Improviser Composer
Here’s a link to her early show at Pyatt Hall (beautiful spot for music) – Peggy Lee Band – Early Show | Coastal Jazz & Blues Society | TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Header Photo: Ira S