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Latest Raves for "I Give Up, I'm in Love"

From Marcia Hillman, New York City Jazz Record

"Marlene VerPlanck adds to her reputation as a first-rate vocalist with this latest CD, once again choosing her material wisely with a selection of favorites, little-done songs and the first recording of a new tune by Johnny Mandel and Morgan Ames (the title song).

"She features accompaniment ranging from the Glenn Franke Big Band to two different trios, comprised of pianist Mike Renzi, bassist David Finck and drummer Ron Vincent or pianist Tedd Firth, bassist Jay Leonhart and Vincent, plus guest appearances by cornet player Warren Vache and tenor saxophonist Harry Allen.

"Starting off with the title track, VerPlanck demonstrates her ability to belt out a song with a big band accompaniment—a talent she displayed early in her career with the Charlie Spivak and Tommy Dorsey bands—while tunes done with a trio show her able to carry off a more intimate approach.

"VerPlanck has always communicated successfully with clear vocal tones, remarkable range, diction and devotion to the lyrics and their interpretation, qualities that have not diminished one bit over the years.

"There are many delightful moments to be found on this album, but notable is VerPlanck's lovely and sensitive rendition of Peggy Lee-Victor Young's Where Can I Go Without You?, Vache adding his special touch with cornet fills and a solo and also heard delivering a swinging solo with the big band on the title track.

"Allen enhances VerPlanck's vocals on several tracks, especially smooth and sensitive on How Little We Know. Vincent shines with his tapdancing brushwork on I Love The Way You Dance and Sleighride In July, while pianists Renzi and Firth (the latter with whom VerPlanck has worked many times) show off their talents for vocal accompaniment (a very special art) in their respective appearances." -- Marcia Hillman, New York City Jazz Record

 

Latest Performance Raves

Marlene VerPlanck Charms at the Crazy Coqs

"Way back, Pizza on the Park was the go-to place for sophisticated jazz and cabaret. Not anymore. It’s long gone. Now, Crazy Coqs, set deep below Piccadilly and furnished in the kind of Art Deco style that makes you think the Great Gatsby (or possibly Leonardo Di Caprio himself) could walk in any minute, has become the new haven for classy performers who relish its close-to ambience. And for punters who think the same.

"The diminutive songstress Marlene Verplanck was always at home in Pizza on the Park and has built a UK fan-base through her continuing visits here; this week she’s making her debut at Crazy Coqs (she's there through to Saturday 22 March). Happily for those who know her work, her mix of Great American Songbook swingers and plaintive paeans to unrequited love remains both beguiling and yes, life-enhancing. She stands still, is never histrionic, and picks unhackneyed songs by great composers, concentrating on letting the lyrics do their work, telling stories, and allowing us to relish their value. And all with a smile on her face." --Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise Magazine, March 21, 2014
Read entire review.

Ballads… Mostly – Marlene Verplanck at The Crazy Coqs

"Though this is the first appearance by Marlene Verplanck at The Crazy Coqs, she is no stranger to London. Her superb jazz styling of material, always first-class and occasionally offbeat, recalls Blossom Dearie or Peggy Lee, though she has a distinctive approach with some effective gliding octaves plus crystal-clear delivery doing justice to the lyrics. Her current programme includes three numbers each from Irving Berlin and Cy Coleman, with Berlin’s lovely ballad ‘I got lost in his arms’ given its movingly emotional weight, and a number from Call Me Madam, ‘The best thing for you’, prompting a deliciously swinging arrangement. The Coleman selections include two hit-parade numbers that he wrote with Carolyn Leigh, ‘Witchcraft’ and ‘Rules of the road’, plus the rarer ‘Why try to change me now?’" -- Tom Vallance, classicalsource.com, March 18, 2014
Read entire review.

Sally Evans-Darby finds Marlene VerPlanck’s Ballads…Mostly set at Crazy Coqs, London to be stamped with the singer’s signature warmth and grace

"After enjoying a happy afternoon at one of Marlene VerPlanck’s lunchtime concerts at Ronnie’s last year, I was keen to catch her again on her annual sojourn in the UK. This time she was making her debut at Crazy Coqs, a new cabaret spot beneath Piccadilly Circus currently boasting an impressive programme of classy performers, including Christine Bovill and Claire Martin. The circular art deco cabaret room itself sports an impressive mirror ceiling that belies the room’s modest size, and tables and chairs are arranged fan-like around the small red-curtained stage, with even the furthest seat against the back wall feeling up-close and personal. Walking into the venue is an uncannily transportive experience; you are immediately plunged into another era.

"Such transportive qualities are the ideal setting for Ms VerPlanck’s music, which with its themes of longing and wistfulness invites the listener to reminisce about times gone by (particularly her melancholic reading of Jack Segal’s noir ballad I Keep Going Back To Joe’s) - but Ms VerPlanck’s communicative powers go far beyond mere nostalgia. For one thing, her delivery is anchored firmly in the present: each song has an immediacy about it, as if its sentiments have occurred to her in the moment, while her two excellent accompanists (John Pearce, piano and Paul Morgan, bass) follow her lead. -- Sally Evans-Darby, Jazz Journal, March 2014
Read entire review.

 

Marlene VerPlanck Meets Harry Allen and the Saxes
Sharp Theater, Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ, October 5, 2013


Marlene VerPlanck
Monmouth County Library, Manalapan, NJ, October 6, 2013

By Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz, December 2013

"In the space of less than 24 hours, Marlene VerPlanck gave two magnificent concerts in two distinctly different musical settings. On both occasions she demonstrated why she has earned a place in the upper echelon of interpreters of the Great American Songbook.

"At the Sharp Theater in the Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts at Ramapo College of New Jersey, VerPlanck had the backing of a four saxophone section, Harry  Allen, Al Regni, David Demsey and Dan Willis, plus a rhythm section of Tomoko Ohno on piano, David Finck on bass and Ron Vincent on drums. The charts for this evening were those penned by her late husband Billy VerPlanck for two recordings that she made with the French jazz group Saxomania in1994 and 1999.

"The program included a variety of tunes that ranged from the familiar, 'You Turned the Tables on Me,' 'Beautiful Friendship' and 'Embraceable You' to some that are not often heard like Dave Frishberg’s 'El Cajon,' Stephen Sondheim’s 'Sooner or Later' from the  1990  film Dick Tracy, and the terrific Gerry Mulligan/Mel Tormé song '“The Real Thing.' As she usually does, she included some tunes by Billy VerPlanck including 'Sing Me to Sleep,' lyrics by Ray Hoffman, 'What Are We Going to Do with All that Moonlight,' words by Leon Nock, and 'Left Bank Blues,' a tune he wrote for the John LaSalle Quartet in the late 1950s when his wife was a member of that vocal group.

"These are not easy charts, and the musicians did a remarkable job of playing them with a minimal period of rehearsal time. Marlene VerPlanck has been doing many of the selections in versions scaled down to a trio setting, so it was also a challenge for her to sing them in the context of a larger group. The results were just what you would expect from any project the VerPlanck undertakes – refreshing and exciting.

"The following afternoon, VerPlanck was joined again by Allen, Finck and Vincent, along with pianist Mike Renzi, for a completely different, but equally satisfying program of great songs at the Monmouth County Library in Manalapan, a gig that she has been doing for many years at this ongoing series produced by former NJJS Board Member Jack Livingstone.

"Again the song selection was wide-ranging, encompassing standards like 'There Will Never Be Another You,' 'Dearly Beloved,' 'You Can Depend on Me' and 'I Only Have Eyes for You,' to some tunes by jazz musicians, like Bill Evans, who provided the tune to 'In April,' with a lovely lyric added by Roger Schore, and 'Here’s That Sunny Day,' words and music by guitarist Barney Kessel. There were also a couple of Billy VerPlanck songs, 'Speaking of Love,' with lyrics by Frank Grant, and a collaboration between VerPlanck and lyricist Leon Nock, “Why Was I Thinking of Springtime.”

"The standing ovations that greeted VerPlanck’s final selection, 'It Might As Well Be Spring,' encouraged her to provide an encore with 'The Song Is You.' On this afternoon the song was Marlene VerPlanck and her superb cast of musicians. The folks in Manalapan seemed like they are already anticipating her appearance in next year’s jazz series." -- Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz, December 2013

 

Marlene Ver Planck Quartet at Kitano
Thursday, July 25, 2013
by Alix Cohen on Playing Around

"From big bands to studio work, radio, television, clubs, and concerts Marlene Ver Planck has done it all, yet tonight it seems she must always have been a jazz baby. Ver Planck has the kind of skill with sliding octaves, hip takes, and scat that makes her voice a fourth instrument onstage. She often comes at phrases as if pulling notes from above and behind herself, creating musical arcs. While part of a word is bright, the rest may be in vocal shadow nuanced by vibrato.

"There’s zing in her “Sing” (Joe Raposo). It’s a confident interpretation, but not forced. Ver Planck clearly loves what she does. Opening, this veteran projects the young, unjaded quality of a performer who still wants to share. “In April” (Bill Evans/Roger Schore) follows, steeeeling away one’s heart like a cajoling breeze. In the audience, Shore looks wistful. Most of us must. “There Will Never Be Another You” is a smoky foxtrot. Ver Planck tends to close her eyes and pull her shoulders back a little before a higher note. Piano is lovely and melancholy". -- Alix Cohen, Woman Around Town, Playing Around, July 27, 2013
Read entire review.

Latest Raves for "Ballads...mostly"

"That classy sentinel songstress, Marlene VerPlanck, is back with another album of perfectly chosen songs. As always, she has surrounded herself with top musicians and the results are definitive. With the likes of Tedd Firth and Mike Renzi alternating on piano, and revered musicians like Jay Leonhart and Boots Maleson on bass, Houston Person on tenor sax along with Ron Vincent on drums and Claudio Roditi on trumpet, this disc is a winner in VerPlanck's extensive catalog. 

"Add to it all the late Billy VerPlanck’s refined arrangements on five beautiful Carolyn Leigh cuts, and it doesn’t get much better. Marlene deftly devoted herself to preserving the American songbook and still sounds as fresh as when she first sang backup for Frank Sinatra—and Kiss!" --John Hoglund Cabaret Scenes, November 1, 2013
Read entire review.

 

"Vocalist Marlene VerPlanck searches through the Songbooks of Cy Coleman and Harry Warren on this outing with impressive results. With her two trios of Tedd Firth-Mike Renzi/p, Jay Leonhart-Boots Maleson/b and Ron Vincent/dr, she delivers clever and updated versions of better known material like “I Only Have Eyes For You” and “Baby Dream Your Dream” while with the glowing tenor of Houston Person she caresses “Witchcraft” with a magic wand. Claudio Roditi contributes his warm trumpet to “I Wish I Knew” and the lovely “Love Dance” by Ivan Linz. A few obscurities pop in, and they are quite welcome, such as Coleman’s “It Amazes Me” and “I Walk A Little Faster,” but that’s the purpose of an outing like this. Ver Planck’s deliver is timed like a 9th inning closer, changing the speed and direction like a bullpen queen. Nice outing!" -- George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly, August 8, 2013

 

Marlene VerPlanck Sings - "Ballads…Mostly"
Audiophile Records


"From Marlene VerPlanck's very first musical phrase, I was reminded of two great artists; Lena Horne and our very own Los Angeles based pianist/singer/songwriter, Betty Bryant. The thing that brought those two artists to mind is both Betty Bryant and Lena Horne enthusiastically sell their song lyrics to any listening audience. Marlene VerPlanck is the same type of artist. She is a believable storyteller. You hear her and you buy it.

"The record production is simple but strong. VerPlanck presents a complete package of well chosen songs that become jazzy, easy listening at its best. This CD is rich with familiar standard songs, but I was impressed with song choices that included a number of unfamiliar compositions. Delightful songs like "My Dream is Yours" by Harry Warren and Ralph Blaine. You may remember Warren wrote "I Only Have Eyes For You" with co-writer Al Dubin."

"This is Marlene VerPlanck's twenty-second CD release. The New York Times said Marlene VerPlanck '…may be the most accomplished interpreter of popular material performing today.'  I agree!" -- Dee Dee McNeil, LAJazz.com, July 27, 2013
Read entire review.

 

Just in! 5 stars from Bruce Crowther, Jazz Journal International, July, 2013 *****

MARLENE VERPLANCK: "BALLADS . . MOSTLY" (Audiophile ACD-343)
"...her crystal-clear vocal sound is unimpaired and as gorgeous today as it ever was. Very warmly recommended to all lovers of good music that is expertly performed." -- Bruce Crowther, Jazz Journal Int'l UK, July, 2013

 


"If this polished singer hasn't quite reached the summit of fame, it's only because today's public lines up around the block for mediocrity and too often loses focus on real talent. Ver Planck transmits a lyric's meaning, and that's a nearly impossible thing to "teach." As has been said, either a singer "has it" or she doesn't. On this very intimate performance, Ver Planck has made a real deal, gimmickfree, tell-it-like-it-is CD. Indeed, she has it, gets it and does it." --George Fendel, Jazz Scene of Oregon, July 2013

 

"VerPlanck still sounds as warm and inviting as she did at 22, maintaining a polished jazz-cabaret panache that suggests a cozy amalgam of Sheila Jordan and Rosemary Clooney. Though rarely presented as such, her albums tend to be thematic, typically focusing on a specific tunesmith or two. This time around the spotlight is on the Cy Coleman and Harry Warren songbooks. Guided by two of the best accompanists around, alternation pianists, Mike Renzi and Ted Firth (with Ron Vincent on drums and Jay Leonhart and Boots Maleson swapping bass duty), she may sound a fraction of her age yet exhibits a well-seasoned trouper's interpretive instincts. Whether caressing, "My Dream is Yours," embroidered by special guest, Houston Person's tenor sax, swinging lightly through the suburban reverie "Baby Dream Your Dream" or navigating the impish foreply of "You Fascinate Me So, "she remains an indomitable, if underappreciated, champ. --Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times, August 2013

 

“This latest offering is such a classy affair that I doubt if I will her anything half as good in a new release this year. How on earth does she do it, making it sound so easy, natural, and effortless? The art that conceals the art is so evident here, the singing so sublimely, so intuitively at one with the songs and the musicians that from the opening bars of the wistful I WISH I KNEW to the affirmative conclusion of WHY WAS I THINKING OF SPRINGTIME,  this album achieves the very peak of perfection.” -- Gerry Stonestreet, In Tune International, July 2013

 

“Album titles aren’t always accurate or representative but Ballads…Mostly is aptly named. Marlene VerPlanck, a veteran jazz vocalist, does, in fact, emphasize ballads and, even when she increases the tempo, maintains a relaxed, laid-back mood. The result is a consistently pleasing torch album. Another thing about VerPlanck that hasn’t changed is a strong Ella Fitzgerald influence but she is a warmly expressive singer in her own right and in fine form throughout the session.” -- Alex Henderson, The New York City Jazz Record, July 2013

 

“Samantha Carlson and Marlene VerPlanck are talented singers who have put together collections of tunes that deserve some attention….

“If you like creative vocal phrasing, Marlene VerPlanck’s Ballads…mostly is the album for you.

VerPlanck’s album is much less dependent on old chestnuts for its repertoire. She does include a few hoary pieces like “I Only Have Eyes For You” and “Witchcraft,” but most of the songs on the album, although venerable in many cases, are not always that well known. In many cases it will be VerPlanck’s version that will reintroduce these classic pieces to many in the modern audience. These are songs that are worth resurrecting. Cy Coleman classics like “It Amazes Me,” “Baby Dream Your Dream,” and “I Walk a Little Faster” are too good to be lost. VerPlanck’s intelligent treatment is reinvigorating to say the least. VerPlanck is no novice. This is her 22nd album. She has been around and her brave creativity is apparent.

The singer is joined by some excellent jazz soloists: saxophonist Houston Person (who does some exciting work on “My Dream is Yours”), trumpeter Claudio Roditi (with a solo on “Love Dance”) and pianists Tedd Firth and Mike Renzi. This is a real jazz album, with 15 tracks running about an hour’s worth of wonderful music, much of which you are not likely to have heard over and over again. It is an album to savor.” -- Jack Goodstein, Blogcritics, June 1, 2013
Read entire review.

 

"Marlene VerPlanck seems to get better with each new Audiophile recording. With excellent breath control & singing in the correct register, Marlene consistently comes up with the best repertoire that anyone can imagine.

"Ballads..mostly" is well sequenced with some of the top instrumentalists in the business backing her. How can you go wrong with several arrangements by Marlene's late husband and mentor, Billy and compositions by, among others, Cy Coleman, Harry Warren and even Mr.VerPlanck, himself?

"Ballads..mostly" is a sure hit and a welcome addition to the collection of any lover of terrific vocals." -- Rob Fogle, CHRY Radio, "Some Experiences in Jazz," Toronto, Ontario, May 23, 2013

 

"What we get in popular music today is seldom what we might expect from the packaging.

"This is one of the reasons why a new album from Marlene VerPlanck is something to celebrate. All of us who love popular song know by now that when such an album appears our eager anticipation is always satisfied. Everything is as close to perfection as can happen. The choice of songs is always thoughtful – some are familiar, yet not overworked by other singers, others are not heard as often as they deserve, and there are occasional new songs that fit perfectly with their better-known companions. Then there are the arrangements, most often by Billy VerPlanck, Marlene’s husband for so many years, whose death in 2009 left a hole in music and in life that is impossible to fill. When it comes to accompaniment, Marlene always chooses to work with front-rank instrumentalists, finding rhythm sections well versed in those special skills that cushion and carry a singer, alongside soloists who can add special luster to a song without overpowering the vocal line. And then there is the voice. Astonishingly, given the number of years she has performed, Marlene still retains the gorgeously fluid crystal-clear sound that has always been a distinctive hallmark of her timeless work." -- Bruce Crowther, Jazz Mostly, May 18, 2013
Read entire review.

 

"MARLENE VER PLANCK/Ballads...mostly: In a word, fugeddaboudit! With Elaine Stritch's recent retirement in place, Ver Planck steps up to fill the New York sophistication void. Not a brassy broad like Stritch, Ver Planck is a classic jazzbo vocalist that's out to properly service the song first and foremost. With her first call pals in tow, this set shows what happens when you let pros who know what they are doing do their thing. Up market without being stiff, the only time this isn't swinging is when it's smoking. Tasty stuff throughout." -- Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher, Midwest Record Entertainment, May 4, 2013

 

"Marlene my darling

"Listened to the CD this evening. Dear God, what a beautiful voice! I loved every track. Especially loveable was 'Why Try To Change Me Now'. Dim the lights, glass of wine, feet up and drown in the sound of Marlene Verplanck's voice...Heaven!
Tom xxx" -- Thomas Coyle, Editor, Sinatra Magazine, Ireland

 

"Marlene Ver Planck is a vocal fixture that may not get near the credit she deserves both for longevity and consistency of presentation. Ver Planck has a pristine voice and has released her 22nd cd to add to her immense discography.

"You know Ver Planck is held in high esteem within the jazz community as special guests include the great Houston Person on tenor saxophone and Brazilian icon Claudio Roditi on fluglehorn. An eclectic mix of popular standards and Brazilian favorites may have this release as arguably her finest to date. Ballads...mostly works incredibly well thanks to Ver Planck's keen sense of melody. If runs, trills and other vocal pyrotechnics are your thing then keep moving. Ver Planck allows and appreciates the value of a great melody and allows the music to stand on merit and especially when accompanied by what could be considered an all star line up." -- Criticaljazz.com, May 1, 2013
Read entire review.

 

"One of the natural treasures of New Jersey is vocalist MARLENE VERPLANCK. I remember once referring to her as a lyricist's best friend, and one listening through Ballads…mostly (Audiophile – 343) will have you nodding your head in agreement.

"She chose her accompanists well with Tedd Firth or Mike Renzi on piano, Jay Leonhart or Boots Maleson on bass and Ron Vincent on drums, and special contributions from Houston Person on tenor sax and Claudio Roditi on trumpet. These cats provide the kind of support that any singer would appreciate. I can name no vocalist who has consistently mixed outstanding standards with lesser known gems that stand tall amongst their more famous peers.

"This collection features seven tunes by Cy Coleman, including 'It Amazes Me,' 'Baby Dream Your Dream,' 'The Rules of the Road,' 'I Walk a Little Faster,' and 'You Fascinate Me So,' all arranged by her late husband, Billy VerPlanck; four by Harry Warren, among them 'I Wish I Knew' and 'My Dream Is Yours;' and one each by Ivan Lins, 'Love Dance;' Ronny Whyte, 'Listen to the Piano Man;' and one by Billy VerPlanck with lyrics by Leon Nock, 'Why Was I Thinking of Springtime.'

"Ballads...mostly is a perfect blending of vocalist, musicians and material, one that you will want to hear over and over again." -- Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz, June 2013 Issue

The press is wild about Marlene:

Bernard McAlinden's marvelous 2-part profile in In Tune International:

This is an amazing profile in the December 2012 and January 2013 issues of In Tune International, a wonderful publication from the UK that highlights the stars of the Golden Age of popular music. Unfortunately the articles are not available on the In Tune International Web site, but here are a few excerpts:

"One of the finest interpreters of the [Great American] Songbook singing today is Marlene VerPlanck, of that, there can be no question."

"Marlene and Billy were very good friends of [Alec] Wilder's and in 1986 Marlene recorded thirteen Wilder songs and a further seven in 1991. She is accompanied by the Loonis McGlohan Trio and the CD, issued as 'Marlene VerPlanck sings Alec Wilder,' is a beautiful album bringing some great Wilder songs to the notice of the public. It was released in 1992 and there is a lovely quote about this album by pianist Marian McPartland, herself a great friend of Wilder's, who says 'Alec would have loved this album.' Loonis McGlohan, writing in the liner notes says 'she (Marlene) has matured, I think, into the very best singer of popular songs we have. Her voice sing like an instrument, and it is warm, pure, and lovely.'"

"Marlene's 2009 tour of the UK was the first that she had made without Billy, due to his ill health. She had only completed five of the concerts when she had to return home because his condition began to deteriorate. Sadly, Billy's recovery was only temporary and he died on 2 June 2009. He and Marlene had been married for fifty-two years and one can only imagine the effect and loss felt by her. John 'Billy' VerPlanck was of Dutch ancestry and had started his own career as a fifteen year old trombonist in the Jess Stacey Band. His own trombone heroes were Tommy Dorsey and Bill Harris and he went on to arrange for the bands of Charlie Spivak, Charlie Barnet and Tommy Dorsey himself, amongst others. One cannot over-estimate his enormous influence and guidance on Marlene's career. His arrangements for her, whether for big band, smaller groups, trio, duo, or a capella were always vibrant, imaginative and challenging. He knew her voice and its capability better than anyone and arranged for her accordingly. He always left room for her to express herself, allowing her to spread her wings, and she always rose to meet the challenge."

"Marlene continues to work constantly and still has lessons with her vocal coach Maria Farnworth (which tells you something, doesn't it?) and there can be no doubting whatsoever that she just loves to sing. She is as comfortable playing major concert hall venues such as Carnegie Hall, cabaret rooms such as the Rainbow room, major jazz clubs such as Birdland, Ronnie Scott's or Michael's Pub, as playing provincial clubs when she is on tour.

"She treats them all with the same respect taking them all comfortably in her stride. She continues to make an enormous contribution to the art of the Great American Songbook, refreshing it with all those newer songs she keeps introducing. She is a thoroughbred singer and I'll leave the last words to composer/arranger Johnny Mandel, who says 'She is truly a songwriter's dream.'" -- Bernard McAlinden, In Tune International, December 2012 and January 2013

Marc Myers interviews Marlene for Jazzwax:

"Singer Marlene VerPlanck has a new album coming—Ballads, Mostly. It's a delicious collection of moody songs with an upbeat feel. Seven of the 15 tracks were arranged by Marlene's late husband, Billy VerPlanck, who died in 2009. Though Marlene spent three decades recording demos and jingles starting in the '60s, she began her professional career in the bands of Charlie Spivak and Tommy Dorsey and recorded many terrific jazz albums over the years." -- Marc Myers, Jazzwax, January 10, 2013
Read entire interview. (Scroll down to January 10. Well worth the effort, it features many photos and audio clips.)

From Jazz Journal:

"Marlene VerPlanck returns for a UK tour this spring, starting in Faringdon, Oxfordshire on 22 February and finishing up in Bexley, Kent on 25 March – with stop-offs including Nottingham, Brighton and Cardiff in between.

"VerPlanck is admired by fans worldwide for her deft phrasing and personal interpretation of the lyric, delivering many of the lesser-known standards of the Porter/Berlin/Gershwin era with subtlety and aplomb. She's also known for her attention to the story behind the song, with her sets often including a look at some of the rare and interesting anecdotes behind songwriters and their lyrics." -- Sally Evans-Darby, Jazz Journal
Read entire article.

Fans and Critics Say the Greatest Things About Marlene!

Marlene Ver Planck Quartet at Kitano
Thursday, July 25, 2013
by Alix Cohen on Playing Around

"From big bands to studio work, radio, television, clubs, and concerts Marlene Ver Planck has done it all, yet tonight it seems she must always have been a jazz baby. Ver Planck has the kind of skill with sliding octaves, hip takes, and scat that makes her voice a fourth instrument onstage. She often comes at phrases as if pulling notes from above and behind herself, creating musical arcs. While part of a word is bright, the rest may be in vocal shadow nuanced by vibrato.

"There’s zing in her “Sing” (Joe Raposo). It’s a confident interpretation, but not forced. Ver Planck clearly loves what she does. Opening, this veteran projects the young, unjaded quality of a performer who still wants to share. “In April” (Bill Evans/Roger Schore) follows, steeeeling away one’s heart like a cajoling breeze. In the audience, Shore looks wistful. Most of us must. “There Will Never Be Another You” is a smoky foxtrot. Ver Planck tends to close her eyes and pull her shoulders back a little before a higher note. Piano is lovely and melancholy". -- Alix Cohen, Woman Around Town, Playing Around, July 27, 2013
Read entire review.

 

Gerry Stonestreet's Review of Marlene at Malmesbury Town Hall, April 14, 2013

"The news that Marlene VerPlanck was appearing at Malmesbury Town Hall on March 14 gave me the perfect excuse to have a short break in the lovely little Wiltshire town where I spent some years as a teenager and combine it with the pleasant task of attending a concert by on of the most persuasive performers of the Great American Songbook.

"Thus a gap of nearly sixty years since the last time I was present in the Town Hall, which I recall was for a school Christmas party, completed a sentimental journey indeed. Not a song on Marlene's current set list as it happens, but that did not detract from the warm glow of witnessing yet another display of consummate professionalism from the lady on a cold night.

"Her voice retains its clear, reassuringly firm timbre without any of that uncertain vibrato that many singers of a certain vintage develop in later life. In fact, her voice is remarkably unchanged, her delivery still vibrant and youthful despite the demands made on it by a tour which has seen her zigzagging across the country for the best part of a month. If it's Wednesday it must be Grimsby, if Thursday, Malmesbury, Friday back up country to Suffolk, then Brighton on the South Coast before a dash back to London for the Ronnie Scott brunchtime show and so on and so forth.

"Backed by a trio comprising John Pearce on piano, Paul Morgan on bass and Bobby Worth on drums, Marlene gave us the usual blend of well-known standards like EASY TO LOVE mixed in with unexpected gems like the Mulligan-Tormé song THE REAL THING, a three song medley from DR. DOOLITTLE, (a score which perhaps it is high time was better recognised as being full of fine songs) and Mandel's EL CAJON. Bet of all to my ears was a perfect version of the Cahn-Styne ballad GUESS I'LL HANG MY TEARS OUT TO DRY and the closing COME BACK TO ME where she really pulled out all the stops.

"This was a performance of a consistently high standard, material that was perfectly suited to the singer and of the highest possible quality, with three backing musicians who each contributed so much to the evening. It is a rare privilege to witness performances like this." -- Gerry Stonestreet, In Tune International, April 2013

 

Ken Franckling's Review of Marlene at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center, April 6, 2013

"Singer Marlene VerPlanck closed out the Glenridge Performing Arts Center portion of the South County Jazz Club's robust 2012-13 concert season last night with a thoughtful mining of the Great American Songbook.

"For the most part, her concert at the cozy state-of-the-art Sarasota FL venue featured Songbook pages turned less frequently but just as worthy of illumination as the warhorses that everybody else puts on their short lists.

"With fine support from her ace rhythm section for the night - pianist Mac Chrupcala, bassist Mark Neuenschwander and drummer Dave Pruyn - she gave us a lot of lesser-known gems penned by the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Sammy Cahn, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, etc. The material featured arrangements by her late husband, Billy VerPlanck.

"Her crisp and clear delivery enables the listener to savor the lyrics these masters penned in popular song's 1930s and '40s heyday, and she is still capable of the extended high note for effect. Unlike today's young pop singers, she has the good sense to save that technique for the final notes of a song - and sometimes was more effective when skipping it altogether in service to the splendid lyrics." -- Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes, Sunday, April 7, 2013
Read entire Review.

 

Marlene VerPlanck at Ronnie Scott's, March 17, 2013

"Considering the scope and longevity of Ms. VerPlanck's career, it's hard to believe that she could still be singing with such verve, warmth, and indubitable sincerity. Yet her lunchtime concert at Ronnie Scott's on Sunday 17 March, part of her annual UK spring tour, was undeniable proof that this lady still swings.

"Supported by her excellent UK trio (Paul Morgan on bass, John Pearce on piano, Bobby Worth on drums), M.S. VerPlanck delivered a set characterised by her signature audience rapport and deep, personal connection with every song she sang – which was a mix of well-known and lesser-known standards. It was a wet, grey afternoon in London and it seemed the audience, making up a full house – had huddled inside the cosy club against the lingering winter chill. And if it was warmth they were looking for, that's what they got.

"From the opening number to the encore, M.S. VerPlanck's set was made up of songs with a central theme – the youthful optimism of a first love. It's a theme that could easily stray into trite or corny waters, but not in M.S. VerPlanck's hands. Each song was sung as if for the first time. Her delivery is indelibly as if each standard – its melody, its lyrics, its message – is a surprise even as she sings it; a gift to be unwrapped lovingly and shared with her rapt audience." -- Sally Evans-Darby, Jazz Journal
Read entire review.

 

Shiela Tracy's Review of Marlene at Ronnie Scott's

"There are very few vocalists, if any who can put on a programme at Ronnie Scott's that would come anywhere near matching the performance Marlene VerPlanck gave at Sunday Brunch on March 17th. Yes, she concentrates on the songs of the great American composers, Gershwin, Porter, Van Heusen et al but it's a sure fire bet that many of those songs will be new to you. She is a superb performer who has been entertaining audiences on both sides of the Atlantic for the best part of half a century with a 'know how' and vocal ability that few can match today." -- Sheila Tracy, Swingtime, The Wireless UK, Pure Jazz Radio, USA

Marlene VerPlanck Jazz @The Kitano, New York City August 24, 2012

About a month later, Marlene VerPlanck brought guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, pianist Tex Arnold and bassist Boots Maleson with her for exactly the kind of performance that you would expect from this combination of talents. VerPlanck and Pizzarelli have had a long history of working together, and much of the first set was devoted to the songs of Johnny Mercer, selections that were part of the first recorded effort that wedded the musical mastery of VerPlanck and Pizzarelli, Marlene VerPlanck Loves Johnny Mercer, the best-selling album ever on the Audiophile label. She included Mercer lyrics like those for 'I Thought About You,' 'How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen,' 'I'm Old Fashioned' and 'I Remember You.' There is no better interpreter of Mercer's lyrics out there than VerPlanck. She has always had a jazz element to her singing, but in recent years, she has become freer with her phrasing and improvisations. Pizzarelli is rightfully a legendary guitar player. Arnold has appeared frequently with VerPlanck, has accompanied many other vocalists including Barbara Cook, and spent 25 years as the musical director for the late Margaret Whiting. Maleson is among the strongest bass players on the scene, capable of being a one-man rhythm section, and unfailingly engaging as a soloist. After over fifty years on the scene, Marlene VerPlanck never fails to give exceptional musical experiences to her listeners. -- Joe Lang, New Jersey Jazz Society

 

Jazzaholic by Don Albert:

"If you’re in New York and a jazz fan, I would suggest people of all faiths put Wednesdays between 1 and 2pm aside to go to church.

"Church? Yes, church, Saint Peter’s Church aka The Jazz Church.

"For a small donation of $10 you can hear some of the finest talent in the city, who if you went to a club to see the cover and minimum alone, would well exceed your donation.

"The Jazz Ministry at Saint Peter’s Church was founded in 1965 by the late Reverend John Garcia Gensel, who I personally knew. He also started Jazz Vespers, a religious service featuring a wide range of jazz styles and musicians. Jazz Vespers takes place every Sunday at 5pm.

"The church itself is awesome, from the architecture to the organ and the seating with its contemporary, almost Scandinavian clean lines....

"The second Wednesday was filled with a very experienced, professional singer in the form of Marlene VerPlanck. I love piano bar and saloon singers who have a repertoire of standards and art songs. Ms VerPlanck has, and can sing, with swinging big bands, but for this performance she reverted to the intimate soiree format, backed by pianist Tedd Firth and bassist Jay Leonhart.

"She sang a wonderful song by Peter Kindell and A. Brit called 'Don’t Fall in Love Without Me' it was such a meaningful rendition of the song, no one else should be allowed to attempt it. She followed up with Bill Evans’s 'In Spring' with lyrics by Roger Schore, and Billy Eckstine’s 'Fool That I Am.'

"She sings softly, has an excellent mic technique and her enunciation is impeccable. Her high notes are beautifully in tune with no sign of a screech, and she can scat as well. No, not the garbage most vocalists call scat, VerPlanck is a musician singing phrases horn players would like to play.

"On 'Nobody Else But Me' she sang a chorus a cappella and swung like the clappers. She had fun with 'The Jazz Buff' and grooved on Johnny Mandel’s 'Hershey Bar'. Her set also included 'But Beautiful', a fabulous song titled 'At The Party Upstairs' and a favourite of mine rarely heard, called 'I Keep going Back To Joe’s'. It was a highly professional hour sung with feeling by an artist who makes you feel she is singing directly to you alone.

"Saint Peter’s Church is located at the corner of 53rd Street and Lexington Ave., New York City. -- Don Albert, Artslink.co.za, May 31, 2012

 

Marlene VerPlanck
The Blue Note, NYC, Oct. 30, 2011

"I've a hunch that brunch at The Blue Note also hit just the right note for the increasingly attentive people at other tables, as she did for me, because Marlene VerPlanck's voice goes down as smooth as a Mimosa and her trio had more kick.

"The polished pro's set heavily sampled her latest CD's contents, contentedly, in a comfort zone, but still very much enjoying and invested in the material, with the title song,"One Dream at a Time," especially convincing as a mantra about looking back and forward. I'd resisted the story-song "Invitation to the Blues" on disc, but live — with winsome facial expressions and more obvious attitude, I bought it.

"In good spirits and good voice, ever gracious, she teased superb bassist Boots Maleson about being "the token male" with her and the all-female DIVA! Jazz Orchestra's leader, dynamic drummer Sherrie Maricle and primo pianist Tomoko Ono. All had generous, welcomed, impressive, accessible solos.

"Songwriters were saluted, too, two in person: Roger Schore, who set a thoughtful lyric to a Bill Evans melody ("In April"), was ringside. Noting Ronny Whyte's presence, Marlene suddenly huddled with the trio and gave us an unplanned "bonus track" of "The Party Upstairs," Whyte and Francesca Blumenthal's MAC Award-winning song she'd introduced.

"I'd have liked more chat — and more scat! But when the last song came—"Speak Low," a warhorse I thought I'd tirred of — I had to agree with its lyric's regret about the day ending "too soon, too soon."-- Rob Lester

 

MARLENE VERPLANCK
Jazz at the Field
Haslingdon Cricket Club
23 March 2011

"Marlene VerPlanck treated the audience at Haslingdon's Jazz at the Field club to a musical evening to remember. Club members wouldn't have been surprised because she did just this when she played the club in 2008 and 2009, when the club was called the Rhythm Station and Jazz at the Chambers, respectively, allowing for changes in the venues. 

"Accompanied by the Chris Holmes Trio, Chris, piano, Frank Grime bass, and Jimmy Scaife drums, three of the north-west's best jazzmen, she had a unit of real class in support. It was the trio that opened the evening with a nice blues line from Hampton Hawes, Blues The Most. Marlene then made her entrance and proceeded to demonstrate over the next couple of hours what intonation, crystal clear diction, a true sense of time and swing and the art of phrasing is all about. It was nothing short of a master class.

"In addition to all of the above there is her considerable microphone charm and confident manner with her audience as she constantly informs it with snippets of information about the songs and their composers. She presented a nicely balanced programme and featured a number of songs from her new CD, 'One Dream At A Time'. Recorded as recently as December 2010, several of these songs were new, certainly to me, and I found this refreshing. I have come to the conclusion that this could well be one of the reasons why Marlene continues to retain her great enthusiasm that results in a perennial freshness of her art. She continually finds new material, whether newly written songs or unearthing long forgotten gems, that seem to energise her.

"She started with a Kenny Rankin song called Haven't We Met? A nice melody and cute lyrics to match and taken at a lovely tempo, it was a good one to start with. Next was a real bonus, a Bill Evans composition In April. It has had words written for it by Roger Schore and I feel that if Marlene's recording of this one got some reasonable air-play we could well start to hear other singers performing it. The late American pianist/composer Cy Walter, a one time accompanist to Mabel Mercer, wrote Some Fine Day in 1939 originally calling it One Fine Day but then retitled it Some Fine Day in 1953. This is a song, words and music, that one feels could have been written with Marlene in mind. Marlene was in complete control with the contours of the melody and there was some lovely sympathetic support from the trio.

"There were many memorable moments during the evening with Marlene swinging through numbers like the old Earl Hines, George Carpenter, Louis Dunlap song, You Can Depend On Me, which was enhanced by a splendid solo by Chris Holmes and the exciting exchange of fours from Frank Grime and Jimmy Scaife; the Vincent Youmans, Edward Eliscu and Gus Khan two song medley Flying Down To Rio and The Carioca. It was interesting to hear the witty, amusing rhyming lyrics on Flying contrasting with the rhythmic vitality of The Carioca; and the beautiful swinging delivery, such great time, of the Burton Lane/Yip Harburg song That Old Devil Moon.

"Then she suddenly said 'now for a song by a man who only wrote hits - Irving Berlin' and went straight into The Best Thing For You that featured some swinging piano immediately following it with another 'and here's another man who only wrote hits - Cole Porter'.  She sangWhy Shouldn't I?  complete with the verse, it was delightful and followed this with a beautiful performance of I've Got You Under My Skin.

"In a performance that was filled with so many good things about the true art of singing, as though she was singing to each individual in the audience, there were two highlights. The Heather On The Hill and But Beautiful. The former, a Lerner and Loewe song from Brigadoon complete with the verse, was a wonderful interpretation, truly. It was a superbly crafted arrangement with a marvellous ending. This was Marlene at her very best, giving such a personal reading.  A difficult song to sing, she made it seem so effortless.

"But Beautiful was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke for the film 'Road To Rio'. It was made famous by Bing Crosby, however, I would say that dear old Bing never sang it as well as this.  Marlene's phrasing exuded warmth and that tricky change of key that she handled so seamlessly.  It was a pleasure to hear the marvellous verse which set up the chorus perfectly. This was exceptional.

"As one can imagine, all the songs performed were subject to well detailed arrangements. To see the bassist and drummer, as well as the pianist reading their way through some tough charts while retaining that relaxed looseness that makes for the great rhythm section and with scope for soloing was truly heart warming. This was real teamwork.

"Amongst all her other attributes it would be true to say that Marlene is a true student of the art of the lyric. One can imagine, particularly with the new songs that she features, that they have to pass a severe scrutiny test to satisfy her so it was no real surprise that she sang three songs that had lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Trav'lin' Light, This Time The Dream's On Me, andDearly Beloved, with melodies by Trummy Young and Jimmy Mundy, Harold Arlen and Jerome Kern respectively.  On the last named song she was accompanied for the first chorus by just the double bass - it sounded so right.  She sang another song by Jerome Kern, a charming thing called What They Say Is True and told a little story that the words were written by Oscar Hammerstein who took on the challenge for a bet, that he couldn't write a song as sophisticated as Cole Porter.

"Other songs included three written by Marlene's late husband Billy, Quietly, a charming song that has words by Ray Hoffman; and two with words by Leon Nock, as As Far As I'm Concerned and the title song of the CD One Dream At A Time; a swinging up-tempo treatment that had some great 8's from Frank and Jimmy, of What A Difference A Day Made, composed by Maria Grever with English words by Stanley Adams.(Grever originally wrote the song in Spanish); and an old Clarence Williams, George Sanders and Joe Hubert number that Billy Eckstine used to sing, I'm Falling For You, with Marlene telling us how she used to admire Billy sing this one.

"I was glad that she included two songs that I suspect have rapidly become favourites of everyone. The Marvin Fisher / Jack Segal classic, I Keep Going Back To Joe's, as through she was letting us in on a personal secret; and the Party Upstairs by Ronny Whyte and Francesca Blumenthal. She closed her performance swinging through Edward C. Redding's The End Of A Love Affair and left the stand to a well earned, rousing reception.

"It was a marvellous performance from Marlene and she was quick to acknowledge the contribution of Chris Holmes, Frank Grime and Jimmy Scaife.  The classiest of class acts, we had been entertained by a true star one who has spent a lifetime honing her craft, and continues to do so." -- Bernard McAlinden, In Tune International, June 2011

Latest Raves for "One Dream at a Time"

"One track at a time, One Dream at a Time is growing on me, and time with Marlene VerPlanck is well spent. I say "growing on me" not because her talents are new to my ears or record shelf (quite the opposite), but because the subtle aspects of this CD come out more on repeat listens. The opener, "Haven't We Met?," met with some initial resistance from me with its usual tempo switched and the unwelcome (to me) jazz organ. On the first rounds of listening, the well-rounded singing and bright tone always shown, shone, but almost blindingly outshine other fine aspects. Push "Repeat Play." Some gentle, unfamiliar selections don't knock one's socks off right away, but tug at them gently; I was, eventually, barefoot.

"As a vocalist, her straight-to-the-song's point and pointing up delicious rhymes instead of pointing, "Look at me!," make her decidedly non-diva. Mellifulously musical, mostly merry, Marlene's mega-reliable when it comes to crisp diction, all the while coming off as just the nicest person you could meet. Nice and precise and crisp: ah, she must eat Nice Krispies for breakfast. In a snap, the crack musicians are at her side every moment, whether she's scatting or batting around oldies like a medley of "The Carioca" and "Rio" with her trio. Ever-impressive right-touch pianist Tedd Firth—present on this and six more of the 15 tracks—goes to town on jazzy swingers or goes to the heart on ballads.

"Partner in life and music, J. Billy VerPlanck, may be gone, but he's represented by some classy arrangements and three graceful melodies the lady gets to here. They include the setting of Leon Nock's pensive mature lyric about looking back wistfully and looking ahead with a determination steadily growing, ending the CD with an ultimately serene Marlene." -- Rob Lester, Cabaret Scenes, October 2011

"It's such a treat always to write about Marlene VerPlanck. She isn't fooling around here in her new delightful 16 song biscuit with her appealing way of getting real, real close to the melody and closing in on the lyrics. A creative blazing Hammond organ by Ed Vodicka starts things just right on with "Haven't We Met" (Rankin). lt's wildly high noted all the way. What a great ride. The very catchy "ln April" (Schore) follows. lt's based upon a masterwork of a 1978 Bill Evans melody. Mr. Schore's creative rhymes are a welcome tribute to the art of close-up romantic experiences.

"l'm Falling For You" (Hubert/Williams/Sanders), the old Billy Eckstine swooner, is delicious. Ed Vodicka pushes things along with a powerful Hammond organ solo throughout. "Rio" and "The Carioca', (Kahn/Eliscu/Youmans) are combined. They just dazzle - what energy! Fred Astaire eat your heart out. With verse intact "The Heather On The Hill" (Lerner/Lowe) sounds as fresh as a daisy. Marlene has a knack of bringing brand new elements to often sung songs. Here the song from "Brigadoon" sounds sparkling brand new. "But Beautiful" (Burke/Van Heusen) is a surprise. Romantic treats like this one continue to amaze. Marlene meaningfully caresses every word. I've always adored Miles Davis' jazz non-vocal version of "Moon Dreams" (Mercer/Magregor). Here, with the Johnny Mercer lyric, the song takes on a spectacular new meaning. with Marlene's long held notes it's as excitingly idyllic as it can get. These are just some of the highlights of this rewarding CD." -- Dan Singer, In Tune International

"Even by this singer's very high standards, this is an exceptionally good CD. As so often happens, she has taken great care in her selection of songs, finding some underused standards, some forgotten gems from the past, a few delightful originals, and a handful that started life in or close to the jazz world. To all of this material she brings the musical expertise and understanding that has marked her work for many years.

"This is the first album Marlene has recorded since the death of her husband, Billy VerPlanck, and there are touches throughout, real and recalled, that reflect his importance in his wife's musical life as her career-long arranger.

"Two songs, As Far As I'm Concerned and One Dream At A Time, were composed by Billy for lyrics by Leon Nock and discovered by Marlene after her husband's death. Another of Billy's songs is Quietly, with Ray Hoffman's lyric.

"Also fulfilling expectations is Marlene's choice of accompanists. All three trios are excellent, with good solos from all, especially the pianists, while the presence of an organ on three tracks brings an unfamiliar but very well-realised element to the singer's work.

"As for Marlene's vocal sound, the bell-like freshness of her voice is as good as it has ever been and she brushes aside the decades with ease. She sound so fresh, in fact, that it is tempting to think that there might be a Dorian Gray-like tape in the attic. But that suggests a pact with the devil and she is much too nice for that.

"This CD can be very warmly recommended, especially to the Friends of Good Songs, who might most readily find it through marleneverplanck.com." -- Bruce Crowther, Jazz Journal

"Marlene VerPlanck has spent much of her career singing in the studios: How many vocalists have backed up both Frank Sinatra (most famously on "Trilogy") and Kiss? It's all the more impressive that she's also created an ongoing discography and that she sings frequently in local clubs. Ms. VerPlanck has the kind of sweet, strong voice and straight-ahead approach that records well, and sounds just right on a wide range of excellent songs that are slightly to the left of the really well-known standards. Her latest album (number 21), "Once There Was a Moon," is filled with obscure gems to delight a songhound's heart, like Johnny Mercer's rarely heard lyric to the Miles Davis classic "Moon Dreams," and a lovely new text for Bill Evans's "In April." She also consistently corals the best musicians in the city, like pianist Tedd Firth and drummer Sherrie Maricle's trio." -- Will Friedwald, Wall Street Journal

 

"Back in the heyday of Tin Pan Alley, song pluggers wanted singers who could put across their number, either in person or on demo recordings. Marlene VerPlanck would have been a perfect vocalist for that job, since her art is all about the song, emphasizing its strengths and subtleties while always honoring the composer’s intentions. No writer could ask for a better, or truer, interpreter of his or her music than VerPlanck, for whom the song is the raison d’être, the object of her art.

"One Dream At A Time is the first CD she’s done since she lost her husband and musical collaborator, composer-arranger Billy VerPlanck. But six of the CDs 15 tracks boast his arrangements, including three pieces for which he also wrote the music. For the most part, Marlene sings with the piano trio format she favors at gigs. But in a departure recalling her early days, one of the trios features Ed Vodicka playing B3 organ on three tracks, with the organ lending the music a big band heft.

"Most of the tunes are from the classic standard songbook, with Billy VerPlanck’s originals sharing a similar aesthetic. Yet there are few chestnuts here, and that’s a large part of this collection’s appeal. For instance, Ira Gershwin and Arthur Schwartz are represented by a lesser-known gem from their collaboration: “There’s No Holding Me” (“if I can keep holding you”), a song VerPlanck personalizes by deftly making the word “climb” rise melismatically.  And VerPlanck’s miraculously ageless voice- there’s still a vernal lilt in her swing phrasing – nails the leaps and shifts in the melody of “Moon Dreams.” A piece perhaps best known as an instrumental arranged by Gil Evans for the Birth of the Cool sessions, but outfitted, as Marlene reveals here, with a fetching lyric by Johnny Mercer. While VerPlanck stays close to the written contours of less familiar songs like Cy Walter’s “Some Fine Day,” she puts her own, jazzy spin on numbers like “What A Difference A Day Made,” reshaping the melody in her second pass at the refrain. But from start to finish, this album is an exemplary primer on the art of the song." -- George Kanzler, Hot House Jazz Magazine, May, 2011

 

"Vocalist Marlene VerPlanck's new CD should delight her fans and garner new ones. With an impressive background as a studio and advertising commercials singer and concert and club tours in the US and UK, VerPlanck is one of the most welcome interpreters of the popular songbook. Blessed with precise diction and the love of a good lyric, VerPlanck's voice is clear, pure, young and remarkably rangy. And once again, she is treating her listeners to a fine collection of not overdone material as well as some lovely originals by her late husband - composer and arranger Billy VerPlanck. Working in a trio setting, VerPlanck uses various combinations of personnel: pianists Tedd Firth, Tomoko Ohno and Ed Vodicka (also on organ), bassists Steve LaSpina and Jennifer Leitham and drummers Sherrie Maricle and Ron Vincent.

"The surprise addition of Hammond B3 organ comes at you on the first track – Kenny Rankin's "Haven't We Met" – and Vodicka's work on this and a bluesy "I'm Falling For You" is notable. Several items are outstanding on this offering: Billy VerPlanck's medley arrangement of "Flying Down To Rio" combined with "The Carioca" (from the Fred and Ginger movie), a combination VerPlanck does quite often live, swung here with Firth, LaSpina and Vincent; an original by Billy entitled "Quietly" that has the feel of the '50s; a wistful rendition of Lerner-Loewe's "The Heather On the Hill" from Brigadoon featuring Firth's pretty fills and some fine bowing by LaSpina and a finger-snapping "What A Difference A Day Made" that gives Ohno some nice exposure and includes a lively dialogue between Maricle and Leitham.

"Most of the collection is material from the '30s, 40s and '50s when there were verses to songs, lyrics that could be understood and storytelling to be done. This is VerPlanck's bailiwick, an area she knows and loves and continues to call her own. It is a piece of nostalgia that needs to be kept alive and VerPlanck is surely one of the best vocalists to keep it going. -- Marcia Hillman, New York City Jazz Record, May, 2011

 

"One Dream at a Time (Audiophile 340) is the title of the new album by Marlene VerPlanck, and it lives up to the high standards that she has set with her many previous releases. VerPlanck has always had a passion for good songs, whether well known standards, gems from the past that have been largely overlooked, or new tunes, often ones composed by her late husband and musical director Billy VerPlanck. Whatever she sings, you can be confident that you will hear a performance that is tasteful, musical, lyric centric, and spot on.

"There are three different combinations of musicians backing her on the album. Tedd Firth on piano, Steve LaSpina on bass and Ron Vincent on drums are the team on seven tracks. Pianist Tomoko Ohno, bassist Jennifer Leitham and drummer Sherrie Maricle comprise the band on four tracks. The other four selections have Ed Vodicka on piano or organ, and he is joined by Leitham and Maricle. All of these combinations are superb.

"As to the songs, we hear some that are familiar, "Haven't We Met, "You Can Depend on Me," a medley of "Flying Down to Rio/The Carioca," The Heather on the Hill," "What a Difference a Day Made" and "But Beautiful"; a few that would most likely be recognized by the hard core song mavens, "In April," a tune by Bill Evans with terrific lyrics by Roger Schore, Cy Walter's "Some Fine Day," "I'm Falling for You," classic Billy Eckstine/Earl Hines selection, "There's No Holding Me," a rarity from Arthur Schwartz and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer and Chummy Magregor's "Moon Dreams," "Invitation to the Blues"; and three new tunes by Billy VerPlanck, "Quietly," with lyrics by Ray Hoffman who wrote the fine liner notes for the album, "As Far as I'm Concerned‚" and "One Dream at a Time," the latter two with words penned by Leon Nock. Marlene VerPlanck has contributed another sparkling album to her impressive catalog." -- Joe Lang, New Jersey Jazz Magazine, June, 2011

The UK 2011 tour was the best yet!

Here's what the critics said:

Before you read these things you may still catch the one hour radio broadcast with Walter Love on Jazz Club, BBC Ulster. It's on the internet.

And, Marlene and Cleo Laine in a duet? Yes! You had to be there. It happened at The Stables in the UK. The audience went wild!!

March 26, Cinnamon Club owner
"So much energy, vibrancy and a great choice of songs. Our customers went home very happy." -- Neil Hughes

March 6, @ Ronnie Scott's in London
"Sometimes just one phrase can open the window onto a singer's whole lifetime of musicality, stagecraft and accumulated wisdom" -- Sebastian Scotney
You can find the entire review here.

Dereham News, March 19, 2011
"Marlene VerPlanck represents the very best of her genre, musicality, phrasing, interpretation, diction are top drawer." -- David Wakefield

From Sinatra Music Society Dublin
"Marlene could teach a thing or two to any upcoming singer as regards to phrasing or diction. She is a tireless performer." -- Hon. Sec. Chris Hitchcock, Dublin

Latest CD Raves from Bruce Crowther of Jazz Journal International

"Marlene VerPlanck's albums are never less than very good indeed; often they are breathtakingly excellent. On the first of these CDs, Marlene ably demonstrates why critics and fans alike rate her as one of the finest interpreters of American popular song in the world today. Superbly backed by a fine instrumental trio led by Hank Jones (with guest appearances by George Shearing and Marian McPartland), and with husband Billy VerPlanck's unerring arrangements putting the final gleam on a polished presentation, this album vividly demonstrates why Marlene's stature continues to grow."

"The second CD finds Marlene in company with the exceptional French band, Saxomania. This is a return engagement (an earlier teaming is on Audiophile ACD 288) and once again it swings like mad. The combination of the band's fiery playing, Billy's marvellous charts, and Marlene's pure and natural voice is irresistible."

 

 

"The third of these CDs brings together the best of all possible worlds. On some of the tracks, Marlene is backed by the group that accompanies her for her UK appearances, the Roy Babbington Trio. It is clear from the intuitive rapport with which they blend why she revels in this association. For all but one of the other tracks, Roy has brought together some of the best British jazzmen to form a big band, which, under Billy's direction, play with crisp eloquence. There is one track from a slightly earlier date whereon Marlene is accompanied by the Tommy Flanagan Trio, performing one of the pianist's own compositions on what was probably his final recording date. As always is delightful drawing melodic gems from the 1920s through to the present day. with this remarkable husband and wife team of singer and arranger, the song selection is delightful, drawing melodic gems from the 1920s through to the present day."

"On the fourth of the CDs listed here, Marlene is accompanied by musicians from Diva (No Man's Band), and with more of Billy's masterly charts, she sings an engrossing selection of songs. As always, there are new songs, standards, and some almost-forgotten songs from the great treasury of American popular music. Marlene is in fine voice and clearly relishes every note that she sings. There are also well taken solos by Karolina Strassmayer, alto saxophone, Anat Cohen, tenor and clarinet, and Barbara Laronga, trumpet. Marlene and the horns are urged along by the rhythm section of Chihiro Yamanaka, piano, who also solos impressively, Noriko Ueda, bass, and Sherrie Maricle, drums and leader. Marlene has never made a record that was ever less than very good indeed, but even so, as I ended the liner notes I wrote for this particular CD, this is 'a superb example, perhaps the finest yet in her illustrious career, of the art of Marlene VerPlanck.'"

"The fifth of these CDs is Now! and once more there is a fascinating selection of songs, mostly little heard but all excellent. Admirably arranged by Billy and beautifully sung by Marlene, they form yet another object lesson in quality singing. The accompanying trio on most tracks is Tedd Firth, piano, Steve LaSpina, bass, and Richard DeRosa, drums, and all are in superb form. There is instrumental gilding to the album thanks to guest appearances by bassist Jerry Bruno, guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, and pianists Norman Simmons and Billy Taylor. Another winner from the VerPlancks."

"The most recent CD, Once There Was A Moon, has Marlene again accompanied by the trio of Tedd Firth, Steve LaSpina and Richard DeRosa. Also present are the imaginative treatments Billy VerPlanck brings to his concepts for the songs. And, as always, these songs are exceptionally well-chosen, if seldom heard gems from some of the classical composers (Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Porter, Mercer, Kern) comfortably joined by songs by Benny Carter, 'Evening Star', Peggy Lee and Cy Coleman and Bill Schluger, 'I'm In Love Again', and Billy V himself, 'Around About Half Past Nine' (with Ray Hoffman) and 'Once There Was A Moon' (with Leon Nock). I find it almost impossible to believe that this is her 20th album and comes after more than twice that number of years in the business. Listening to the bell-like freshness of her singing a newcomer to Marlene VerPlanck's work might well expect her to be a new kid on the block. The difference, though, lies in the assured maturity of her interpretations, which are as close to perfection as it gets."

These CDs are available for purchase here.

Still More Raves...

"It never fails. Whenever Marlene VerPlanck appears on the small, intimate stage of Le Dome at the Manor in West Orange she immediately begins a musical love affair with her audience.

"And that is exactly what happened on the evening of Oct. 16 — her 18th cabaret year at the Manor — when the petite bundle of extraordinary talent brought back memories and chills in her “Tribute to Johnny Mercer.” VerPlanck was the desired dessert that evening.

"Assisting her, with equal love, were here talented trio, Ted Firth at the piano, Rich DaRosa, drums, and Steve LaSpina, bass. VerPlanck, looking absolutely beautiful in a lovely gown, presented Oscar-winning and nominated songs written by Mercer, some of which he wrote with others, including Warren, Van Heusen, Arlen, Kern, and Hampton.

"Numbers that especially mover her loving audience were highlighted by 'The Days of Wine and Roses,' 'Moon River,' 'Jeepers, Creepers,' 'I Remember You,' 'That Old Black Magic,' 'Fools Rush In' and 'Early Autumn.' " -- Bea Smith, The Essex Journal

"With her pure, clear voice and thoughtful, careful phrasing, Marlene VerPlanck is the perfect interpreter of Mercer's songbook. His songs are musical gems--perfect little emotional moments that beautifully express the giddy joy of first love ('Jeepers Creepers,' 'Namely You'), the dream of love ('I Thought About You,' 'I Remember You'), the frustrations of love ('Something's Gotta Give,' 'I Wanna be Around') and just plain fun ('That Old Black Magic'). The songs are called 'standards' for a reason: These classic numbers are the groundwork not only for contemporary jazz, but for the modern American Songbook. And just when you think you've heard every twist and gimmick a singer can do to a song, the VerPlancks come along and strip away everything unnecessary, leaving the pure music and emotion to remind us of why the number was--and is--so beloved." -- Jena Tesse Fox, Cabaret Scenes

"With Johnny Mercer’s centenary year coming up in 2009, there will surely be several concerts and events dedicated to his memory.  There was a preview of this celebratory period when Marlene VerPlanck took the stage at Le Dôme in South Orange on October 16. The powers that be will be hard pressed to find a more glorious and heart felt remembrance of the lyrical genius of Mr. Mercer from Savannah than the one presented on this evening by VerPlanck and her trio of Tedd Firth on piano, Steve LaSpina on bass and Rich DeRosa on drums.

"It is an oddity of the world of vocalizing that certain singers seem to have a natural affinity for the output of a particular songwriter, and Marlene VerPlanck is probably the premier interpreter of the lyrics of Johnny Mercer.  In 1979, VerPlanck made an album titled Marlene VerPlanck Loves Johnny Mercer (Audiophile – 138).  It was released on CD in 1988 with some additional tracks bring the program up to 21 selections, and has continued to be one of the best selling albums on the label.  Her show at Le Dôme included 16 of the songs that were on the album plus an additional nine tunes, including four in her opening medley." -- Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz. Magazine

"It was (Marlene VerPlanck's) first visit to (London's Spice of Life) Jazz Club and, if ecstatic audiences are anything to go by, it won't be her last. The cognoscenti, discerning and enlightened, were out in force, but I was also struck by the number of thirty-somethings dotted around the room who appeared to get as much of a bang as I did myself, which is saying something." -- Leon Nock, "A Nightingale Sang in Cambridge Circus," Perfectly Frank, UK

"Most singers look for songs that do the most for them, whether displaying their skills as a belter or their range as dramatic interpreters. It's only logical, of course, and no one could be faulted for focusing on what a song can do for them. Marlene VerPlanck, on the other hand, is a rarity among modern singers: rather than looking for what a song can do for her, she focuses on what she can do for a song. In a recent visit to Barry Levitt's Jazz Workshop & Brunch at Iridium Jazz Club, VerPlanck performed a wide range of songs and styles, demonstrating her versatility and reminding everyone in the room of why she's one of modern Jazz's greatest treasures." -- Jena Tesse Fox, Cabaret Scenes

"Tempting as it is to suggest that ever-dependable Marlene VerPlanck has done it again, serving up yet another platter of luscious standards and rarities, truth is she did it eight years ago. Produced, arranged and even promoted by hubby Bill VerPlanck, this collection [My Impetuous Heart] of 18 tracks (with the VerPlancks it's always about quantity and quality) was originally recorded with the Hank Jones Trio and released in 2000." -- Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times

"Among Ver Planck's entrancing skills is the deft clarity with which she expresses these lyrics while breezily nailing their emotional irony. Charmer Ver Planck delivers it all with a total command of the jazz idiom in a expressive soprano thats filled with boundless warmth, fun and optimism." -- Andrew Velez, AllAboutJazz.com

"Start with superb pitch control and enunciation, add in musical sensitivity and a great respect for lyrics, an eagerness to explore classic songs old and new, striking arrangements by Billy VerPlanck, impeccable and sympathetic accompaniment, and what do you get? Marlene VerPlanck interpreting American jazz and popular songs in a sparkling performance as classic and classy as art song." -- John Edward Hasse, author of Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington and editor of Jazz: The First Century

"VerPlanck has entranced audiences with her singing and her scatting at Le Dome every year. It appeared that she was singing directly, one-on-one, to each person in the audience. She reaches into the depths of one's soul. It's a great feeling!" -- Bea Smith, syndicated columnist, Worrall Community Newspapers

"Marlene is unpredictable and beyond category." -- Dan Singer, Singer's Singers

"Marlene performed songs ranging from those of Francesca Blumenthal and Ronny Whyte to Johnny Mercer and Doris Tauber. From her latest album Now!, she offered the Blumenthal/Whyte compositions 'The Party Upstairs' and 'Yes!' Sinatra was not forgotten with a lilting 'All My Tomorrows,' with Marlene singing most sincerely and lovely. Drawing on her love and admiration for Johnny Mercer, she sang a beautiful 'Drinking Again' that was pure and brilliant. Another gem was 'I Keep Going Back to Joe’s' by Jack Segal and Marvin Fisher and again a treat. All in all, a most delightful evening!" -- Tom Coyle, Sinatra Society Magazine, Dublin, Ireland (reviewing Marlene's appearance at The Concord Club in Eastleigh, UK)

"An evening with Marlene VerPlanck is a musical experience to be savoured and remembered while we await her next visit to these shores." -- Sheila Tracy, Crescendo & Jazz Music (UK)

"Commanding by friendly and warm stage presence, class, style, exquisite taste, unmatched technique, experience, creativity, diction perfection, exemplary phrasing, superb choice/selection of first class material, perfect harmony and esthetic sublime equilibrium between music, vocal projection, the elan she infuses in the depth of the lyrics and the breathing of rich and delicate metamorphosis of ballads define the magic and super talent of this magnificent singer. This woman is an institution. A monument to excellence. If you are a buff of credentials, accomplishments and exclamation marks, don't go further. Freeze. Steer your Martini, get comfy and dash into the magical world of Marlene VerPlanck." -- New York Monthly Herald

"Marlene VerPlank is a straight ahead singer. She has a wide vocal range, good diction and a pure quality. Paying attention to the lyrics, she sings her stories believably with a jazz-oriented musical background. VerPlank has been out there singing long enough to know her audience and deliver the kind of performance which communicates with and pleases them." -- Marcia Hillman, ejazznews.com

"I was in attendance (at The Iridium on Broadway) and caught the marvelous Marlene VerPlanck. After countless gigs and many albums, Marlene sounds as fresh as ever, relishing good melodies old and new. She sounded especially youthful and vibrant the night I popped in. Selections from her most recent CD Now! are terrifically energized, especially 'The Party Upstairs.' (Just days later, this fun collaboration of Ronny Whyte and Francesca Blumenthal was announced as a nominee for Song of the Year by MAC.) Marlene, whose love for quality songs is infectious, also shines on classics in a 'romance' medley, including some indestructible standards. A couple of thoughtful detours about drowning one's troubles in drink and dark bars ('Drinkin' Again' and 'I Keep Going Back to Joe's') seem right at home as customers sip, but it's almost impossible to feel gloom when sunny Marlene is in the room." -- Rob Lester, Talkin' Broadway

"Last week Marlene VerPlanck had two concerts here in Florence (Italy at the Caruso Jazz Caf. Both evenings were wonderful. A trio of very good local musicians backed her on a series of standards arranged by Billy VerPlanck and found themselves on the same wavelength as Marlene to make some beautiful music. Marlene's voice is amazingly youthful and fresh. The way she phrased and shaded the meaning of each sentence was perfect, every word was pronounced with great care, never a single syllable tossed out casually, and everything had a pathos that was always done to perfection, with a lovely balance of musicality and drama. Needless to say, the audience loved her!" -- Stefano Nuzzo, Songbirds.com

"Chanteuse Marlene VerPlanck is one of these hidden American national treasures. We're so lucky to have her ilk in that the American Songbook (as a result of her vocal efforts) remains integral. And, she keeps us abreast of those compositional gems, we as her listeners may not be privvy to. ...Marlene has that ability to leap up & down her vocal register brilliantly delivering her song in a facile, pure & almost bell-like tone. I characterize her talent thus as a diverse yet intelligent exercise of infectious energy, clarity, melody rhythm & harmony. The jazz/pop idiom must not other than hold her dear...." -- George W Carroll, The Musicians' Ombudsman, from The Cabaret Exchange

"...VerPlanck's long, rich, singing career (is) built around a lovely voice and refined musical skills. With a strong, clear delivery, perfect diction and a penchant for plucking strings of notes out of the stratosphere, she makes a difficult art seem effortless. Speaking of Love finds her, amazingly, as the height of her abilities. Among the delights are the bouncy 'Jamaica Rumba' and 'Little Jazz Bird.' They showcase VerPlanck's light, dexterous voice and the pure joy she takes in singing. Her emotional pitch is perfect on an abridged 'I'll Take Romance,' from a 'Romance Medley.' It is poignant and hopeful and without a trace of cynicism." -- George Garmhausen, Newark Star-Ledger

Photographs and Memories

Here's a slideshow with some photos of Marlene and her fans and friends. Click on the link to see the first slide and then click the play arrow at the top of the photo to start the show. You can use the VCR controls at the top of each image to run or pause the show. View photos here.

  • Ruddick Photo
  • Marlene Crazy Coqs
  • Marlene with Harry Allen, Mike Renzi, David Finck, and Ron Vincent at Manalapan Concert
  • Marlene with Joe Lang, writer, fan extraordinaire
  • Marlene with New York Divas Carol Fredette, Anne Phillips, Helen Merrill, and Daryl Sherman
  • Marlene with Ronny Whyte at Billy's Tribute January 12, 2013
  • Marlene with Ronny Whyte, pianist, Frank Grant, lyricist, Elliott Ames, organizer, DJ
  • Marlene with Linda Amiel Burns, president of the Sheet Music Society, and Debi Whiting (Margaret's daughter) at Billy's Tribute January 12, 2013
  • Marlene With Ron Vincent, Russ Kassoff, Boots Maleson, and Harry Allen 10-7-2012
  • Joe Klenner, Pres. of MVP Fan Club, Marlene & Susie
  • Marlene at Monmouth County Library 10-7--12, Russ Kassoff, piano, Boots Maleson, bass, Harry Allen, sax, Ron Vincent, drums
  • My Bodyguards
  • Marlene with Harry Allen, Sax, and Chris Flory, Guitar
  • Marlene with Jay Leonhart at the Greenburgh Library
  • Leon Nock
  • Manchester Fans
  • Marlene Swanzea
  • Marlene Ronnie Scotts 2012
  • Marlene Maxim Baghuis
  • Marlene Concorde 1
  • Marlene Concorde 2
  • Marlene UK 2012
  • Marlene And Houston
  • Fred And Lynn McIntosh
  • Marlene And Bill Smith
  • Marlene And Dori Smith
  • Marlene and Cleo Laine
  • Marlene and Cole Matheison
  • Marlene at the Catalina Jazz Club
  • Dick Nash, Marlene, and Sammy Nestico
  • Dick Williams and Marlene
  • Marlene and Gloria Cadena
  • Groiup shot
  • Marlene And Sam Stellatella
  • Marlene-Jimmy-Bryant
  • Marlene-John-LaSalle
  • Marlene with Bucky Pizzarelli
  • Marlene And Rae Tutela
  • Oscar, Marlene, Bucky, Jennifer, Warren, Sherrie
  • Marlene with Ed Vodicka
  • Marlene with Jerry Sharell
  • Marlene with Sherry Williams
  • Marlene with Scott Wihitfield and his wife Ginger Berglund
  • Barbara and Ed with Marlene
  • Marlene with Tedd Firth, Jay Leonhart, Warren Vache,Jr and Ron Vincent, July 2009
  • Marlene Holland 2009
  • Marlene with Sylvia Gentil 2009
  • Marlene Stables 2009
  • Marlene Brick Jan09
  • Marlene Freddy Cole
  • Marlene with singer Barbara Lea
  • Marlene Billy Gary Allcock
  • Marlene Billy Laine Dankworth
  • Marlene Maglia
  • Marlene Allcock Band 2005
  • Marlene Nick Liz 2005
  • Marlene Paul Ruth
  • Marlene Ronny Roger