Peggy Lee

Latin a la Lee!

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More than a decade after her massive hit "Mañana," Peggy Lee recorded a full album of Latin themes with Latin à la Lee!. The subtitle -- "Broadway hits styled with an Afro-Cuban beat" -- sounds not only forced, but a bit too gimmicky to be worth much more than the cardboard it's printed on. Also, none of the musicians are credited, and only a clueless marketing man would write the note on the back cover, "Accompanied by authentic Afro-Cuban rhythms." Even so, Peggy Lee's mastery over a range of stylistic situations rescues any potential miscues, and the rugged backing of arranger/conductor Jack Marshall is a pleasant surprise. The rhythms are not only authentically Afro-Cuban, but surprisingly strong and rarely watered down. The rest of the arrangements, though breezy and pop-slanted, support Lee's vocals perfectly. And though her voice isn't quite as strong as it had been during the '50s, Lee uses the cracks on her high notes to accentuate the songs.

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