Marcy Lutes was a big-band singer who got her start in the mid-'40s with Ray McKinley, Tommy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman, retired for awhile after getting married, and re-emerged to make her belated recording debut in 1957. She is a pleasant presence on records at best, displaying a girlish, wide-eyed Midwestern vulnerability and some jazz feeling, though her pitch isn't always reliable. Apparently, this album didn't ignite Lutes' career at the time, for there was no follow-up, and it would be entirely forgotten were it not for the fact that she had some extremely distinguished arranging help. Gil Evans, leading a tentet, contributes three terrific charts that have been almost completely overlooked by collectors. "Cheek to Cheek" is one of Evans' hidden gems, with his distinctive complex voicings operating full tilt. "Trav'lin Light" is a brooding canvas reminiscent of Evans' ballad work for Claude Thornhill, topped by a muted trumpet lead, and the sauntering "Aren't You Glad You're You" clearly points the way toward his Miles Ahead breakthrough later that year. Ralph Burns weighs in with five charts for a small combo that is almost on the same level, including a light-footed "The Gentleman Is a Dope," a rapid-fire "Laughing at Life," and a sauntering "Buds Won't Bud." Filling out the LP are four lush period string arrangements of little consequence by Marion Evans (no apparent relation). Some top-flight jazzers pop up in the bands: saxophonists Al Cohn and Hal McKusick, trumpeter Shorty Baker, bassist Oscar Pettiford, and drummers Don Lamond and Osie Johnson. Whoever was guiding Lutes' sessions certainly had great taste, if not great luck.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell