A heralded interpreter of the classic American Popular Songbook, Marlene VerPlanck makes each story come alive right before your ears. Arranger Billy VerPlanck, the singer’s husband and musical partner for over forty years, creates scenarios for each song that makes them unique. Changes in tempo and mood that correspond with changes in the lyrics make each arrangement quite apart from ordinary presentations. VerPlanck began her singing career with the big bands of Charlie Spivak, Tex Beneke, and the Dorsey Brothers. Her studio work led to a few items that no ordinary television watcher could ever forget. VerPlanck’s strong voice entered our living rooms not too many years ago singing advertisements such as "Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should," "Mmmmmmgood, mmmmmmgood, that’s what Campbell’s Soups are...," "You can take Salem out of the country, but...," "Weekends were made for Michelob" and "At McDonald’s we do it all for you!" But her career hasn’t been limited in any way by pursuing only one facet or the other. VerPlanck has over a dozen albums on the market and remains quite active as a touring and recording artist. Her latest album includes scat singing where appropriate, some show music, and lucid storytelling throughout. It’s as if she were sharing the stage with Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald or Nancy Wilson.
Hank Jones, Gary Mazzaroppi and Joe Cocuzzo work with Marlene VerPlanck quite well, balancing each arrangement so that they’re more active when she’s sustaining phrases. The quartet’s intuitive passions seem to be derived from years of working together or perhaps simply from working in similar situations. Call it experience. VerPlanck’s duet with Bucky Pizzarelli floats lightly in a mist that surrounds the listener with pleasant thoughts. Call it romance. Both of George Shearing’s duets with the singer swing lightly and settle in with a down home ease. Call it comfort. VerPlanck’s duet with Marian McPartland paints a lovely picture of hope in a natural setting. Call it interpretation. The singer’s clear, articulate delivery alongside this stellar piano trio makes for a highly recommended jazz vocal album. Call it talent.
Personnel: Marlene Ver Planck- vocals; Hank Jones- piano; Gary Mazzaroppi- bass; Joe Cocuzzo- drums; Bucky Pizzarelli- guitar for "Soul Eyes;" Marian McPartland- piano for "Willow Creek;" George Shearing- piano for "All In Fun" and "You Must Believe in Spring."