Taking her cue from the old Harry Warren-Al Dubin movie tune “Lulu’s Back in Town,” Lucie Arnaz took to the Birdland stage with a keen sense of balance and poise, investing her turn with a warm banter and a varied songbook. Arnaz at 57 remains a glam diva in her pleated icy electric blue halter. She boasts a personable image and embraced the jazz legacy with Duke Ellington’s “I’m Beginning to See the Light” coupled with a serenely poised evening spill of “Moonglow.”
The lady found her torchlight with “Sorry ‘Bout the Whole Darn Thing,” one of those rare gems from the deep and treasurable trunk of Willard Robison. Revenge in jazz was revealed in her own words for “The View From Here,” set to music by Madeline Stone. Arnaz also reprised the title tune from her Broadway turn in “They’re Playing Our Song” with a zesty thrust that reveals bold stage pipes.
A bountiful guest roster dotted the singer’s keenly paced 90-minute set. Musical director Ron Abel previewed his new tuner “Bricktop,” a tribute to the legendary doyenne of Paris, with “A Place of My Own.” Broadway at Birdland regular Billy Stritch joined Arnaz for a buoyant medley of Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me” and Johnny Mercer’s “Something’s Gotta Give.” Another heady dose of Ellingtonia found cabaret crooner Scott Coulter honoring his new uptown digs with a fervently rendered jazz classic, “Drop Me Off in Harlem.”
Daughter Kate Luckinbill offered an amusing musical account of “Taylor, the Latte Boy,” while son Joe Luckinbill performed a rather tentative guitar solo. Actor-dad Laurence Luckinbill beamed with pride from ringside.
Finale found Arnaz in tribute to her celebrated parents. Wearing a tilted boater, she went Latin with a torrid take on “El Cumbanchero” and a touch of “Cuban Pete” in a flavorful nod to dad Desi. “He was impossible to live with,” Lucie noted, “but unconscionable to live without.” For her mom, Arnaz recalled Lucille Ball’s only Broadway appearance in “Wildcat” and her only hit tune, “Hey Look Me Over.” In a new arrangement by musical director Abel, she skirted the marching tempo for a poised introspective take on the Carolyn Leigh-Cy Coleman tune.