Mitzi Gaynor (vcl), Pete King, Russell Garcia (arr, dir), Pete Candoli, Don Fagerquist, Frank Beach, Manny Klein, Cappy Lewis (tp), Tommy Pederson, Lloyd Ulyate, Joe Howard, Hoyt Bohanon (tb), George Roberts (b-tb), Ted Nash (as, fl), Paul Horn (as), Jules Jacob (ts), Chuck Gentry (bs), Buddy Cole, Jimmy Rowles, Paul Smith (p), Larry Bunker (vib), Howard Roberts, Barney Kessel, Jack Marshall, Al Hendrickson (g), Red Callender, Max Bennett, Joe Mondragon (b), Jack Sperling, Mel Lewis (d)
Reference: FSRCD 899
Bar code: 8427328608992
Mitzi Gaynor has always been a multitalented artist—dazzling dancer, highly competent actress and, by vocation, fine singer—and these two albums demonstrate her great ability to seize the listener’s emotions with the kind of songs that evoke feelings of happiness and love. On “Mitzi” (1958), it’s evident in her way of vocally caressing the ballads, while on the up-beat songs her dancer’s deeply entrenched sense of rhythm also comes to the fore. And on “Sings the Lyrics of Ira Gershwin” (1959) she adds the zestful buoyancy of her love for rhythm and melody to Ira’s wonderful lyrics.
Both albums are full of beautifully crafted work, clothed in the skilled arrangements of Pete King and Russell Garcia, who picked a very similar and polished instrumentation for each. The swinging charts are sustained by a solidly burnished brass section, with particular emphasis on the full, rich sound of its remarkable trombone section, while the ballads are further coloured by a sultry string section. King and Garcia handle their respective bands with a deft touch and musical finesse, allowing full scope for Mitzi Gaynor’s excellent phrasing, crisp diction, individualistic style, and her innate feeling for jazz that make these performances such a pleasure to hear.
"Mitzi Gaynor is probably most remembered for starring in musical films, particularly South Pacific. With her popularity at a peak, the folks at Verve Records chose to feature her on two albums, both with large ensembles of first-call West Coast jazz players. The first, Mitzi, was arranged and conducted by Pete King, and the other, (Mitzi Gaynor) Sings the Lyrics of Ira Gershwin, by Russ Garcia. Both of these outings plus a Top Rank EP titled Happy Anniversary have been compiled on Mitzi + Sings the Lyrics of Ira Gershwin.
Gaynor delivers wonderfully expressive vocals whether investing the up tunes with the rhythmic sense that she demonstrated as a dancer or sensuously caressing a ballad. The Gershwin collection is particularly noteworthy for the inclusion of several lesser heard Ira Gershwin lyics like “The Half of It Dearie Blues,” “Spring Again,” “Gotta Have Me with You,” “Here’s What I’m Here For,” “Treat Me Rough,” “That Certain Feeling” and “Island in the West Indies.” While best known for his collaboration with his brother George, he also had an extensive career after George’s untimely death from a brain tumor at the age of 38, most notably with Vernon Duke. Gaynor was a nightclub and concert performer, as well as the star of several TV musical specials, after moving on from her film career. This disc shows that her vocalizing deserves the kind of interest that this release will hopefully generate."
Joe Lang, President of the New Jersey Jazz Society
Jersey Jazz Magazine (September, 2016)
"Mitzi Gaynor's Verve debut introduces a performer who gets by more on sex appeal and sass than conventional musical talent. If Mitzi sounds like a harbinger of endless pop vixen records to follow, you're right, but there's no denying the album's obvious charms, either. For starters, Pete King's arrangements are dazzling, with a rhythmic energy clearly designed to evoke Gaynor's background as a dancer -- this is music that moves, with an uncommon sense of style and grace that contrasts sharply with Gaynor's delightfully lusty vocals. There's not a trace of Eisenhower era repression to be found here. Mitzi is a bold, brassy record that exults in its own femininity."
Jason Ankeny -All Music Guide