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Good Vibrations

Kate Dimbleby

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Album Review

In the British press, one seldom reads an article on Kate Dimbleby without encountering some mention of Peggy Lee. After all, Lee is Dimbleby's primary influence, and Dimbleby has paid tribute to her idol on more than one occasion — not only with her album Ain't This Cosy, but also with her portrayal of Lee in Lucy Powell's biographical play The Making of Miss Peggy Lee. Less discerning listeners have dismissed the British singer as a kneejerk Lee clone, which is unfair and simply untrue. Comparing Dimbleby to Lee is like comparing Sonny Stitt to Charlie Parker, Chet Baker to Miles Davis, or June Christy to Anita O'Day — in other words, it's a case of the student being greatly influenced by the teacher but ultimately projecting a recognizable voice of his/her own. Good Vibrations points to the fact that even though Lee remains Dimbleby's primary influence, she is her own person — not an exact replica. While Lee's domain was traditional pop in the classic pre-rock sense, Dimbleby's pop-jazz has more of an NAC/smooth jazz/crossover jazz connection. This album gets a lot from Lee, but there are also parallels between Good Vibrations and similar efforts by the Manhattan Transfer. It would be inaccurate to describe this CD as hardcore jazz because Dimbleby is undeniably pop-minded; regardless, she is a creative interpreter of lyrics who brings something personal to familiar songs that include Nick Drake's "River Man," Elvis Costello's "Almost Blue," and the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" (which receives a dusky, post-boppish makeover that is a long way from the original surf rock version). In England, Ain't This Cosy is widely regarded as Dimbleby's most essential release; nonetheless, Good Vibrations is a pleasing effort that takes its share of chances and does a lot to dispel the wrongheaded notion that she is merely a poor woman's Peggy Lee.

Good Vibrations, Kate Dimbleby
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