"...She may be the most accomplished interpreter of popular material performing today..."
The New York Times
Marlene's Latest CD Now Available!
Marlene's latest CD, Ballads...mostly, is now available. Please visit the discography page for more details.
It's always a series of many decisions when starting a new recording. Songs, musicians, studio, what to sing, who to use, and which studio. I was looking around our music room and found 7 arrangements Billy did on Cy Coleman songs. Pefect! How could I not include Cy Coleman, a singer's dream. Not to mention the thrill of singing seven more of Billy's arrangements.
Then after sorting some music I came across the Harry Warren Songbook. That was easy! I chose four more. Now it was time for a few favorites and I chose, Ivan Linz' and Paul Williams, Love Dance, Ronny Whyte's, Listen to The Piano Man and an original by Billy VerPlanck and Leon Nock. Exquisite!
The rest was easy, I called on some old friends, Houston Person, Claudio Roditi, Mike Renzi,Jay Leonhart, Tedd Firth, Ron Vincent, Boots Maleson, and we went to work in a nice little studio in NJ with our engineer, Dave Kowalski.
Hopefully, you are listening to your copy and enjoying it as much as I enjoyed recording it.
Health, Love & Music
Raves for "Ballads...mostly"
"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
Latest Performance Raves
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
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.
Tribute to Billy!
Billy's tribute was a smashing success - a total sellout with dozens and dozens of friends and colleagues....wonderful!
The Song Sheet Society of New York City is honoring the music of J. Billy VerPlanck, on Saturday, January 12, 1:00 p.m. at the AF of M, 322 W. 48th St., just west of 8th Ave., New York City. 212-245-4802
Members are FREE, $10.00 for friends. The music will be performed by Marlene and pianist, songwriter, singer, Ronny Whyte. CD's and sheet music will be available with all proceeds going to The Cancer Fund.
Billy's Scholarship Fund Update
William Patterson University will award the first scholarship this fall! For more on the scholarship fund, visit Billy's Page.
See Marlene on YouTube!
Check out several videos of her performances here.
This site last updated May 19, 2013