This is one of the first pairings in what looks like Fresh Sound’s series of The Best Voices That Time Forgot and amongst many other things it’s a pairing for which (for once) there’s no hype behind the title.
Lutes was making such an impression back in 1957 that she has orchestras directed by Gil Evans, Ralph Burns and Marion Evans backing her. Cheek To Cheek, taken at a tempo Fred and Ginger would have been happy at, is blessed with the former Evans’ tonal colouring and Lutes basks within those colours like a singer who not only knows how to go about her business but also how to make her case.
Her pitch perfect (in the sense of being slightly plaintive) reading of the lyric to I Didn’t Know About You highlights also her sparing use of vibrato, a point which underscores her jazz sensibility and thus yet again raises the issue of the distinction between jazz and superior pop for those who fret over such things.
McGovern’s voice is of a darker hue, which enables her to extract unusual poignancy from You Don’t Know What Love Is. Indeed her feel is such, enhanced by the kind of distinctive Tom Talbert arrangement that serves her throughout the set, that she bridges the divide between singer and listener with notable aplomb.
Reiterating the pitch perfect point made above, All In Fun has McGovern effortlessly getting beneath the lyrical surface and a solo from Joe Wilder that empathetically complements her direct, unembellished approach beautifully.
[Debut] (1) Cheek To Cheek; Prelude To A Kiss; The Gentleman Is A Dope; Trav’lin’ Light; What Is There To Say; Laughin’ At Life; Buds Won’t Bud; Make The Man Love Me; I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good; Lucky To Be Me; Aren’t You Glad You’re You? [Wednesday’s Child] (2) Alone Together; I Like Snow; Crazy He Calls Me; You Don’t Know What Love Is; All In Fun; Hooray For Love; Lonely Town; Wednesday’s Child; Love Isn’t Everything; Get Out Of Town; Winter Song; By Myself; Will You Still Be Mine; Summer Rain (75.04)
(1) Lutes (v) featuring Shorty Baker (t); Jimmy Cleveland (tb); Urbie Green (tb); Herbie Man (f); Hal McKusick (as, bcl); Al Cohn (ts); Zoot Sims (ts); Nick Perito (p); Barry Galbraith (g); Oscar Pettiford (b); Don Lamond (d); Osie Johnson (d). New York City, February 5 and 18, 1957.
(2) McGovern (v) featuring Joe Wilder (t); Danny Bank (cl); Jerry Sanfino (f); Barry Galbraith (g); Arnold Fishkin (b); Don Lamond (d); Osie Johnson (d). New York City, August 1956.
Fresh Sound FSR V102