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Marlene VerPlanck: "NOW!" (2005)

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Marlene VerPlanck: "NOW!" How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

With a stellar piano trio and special guests on hand, vocalist Marlene VerPlanck shapes her 19th solo album around classic romance songs and pleasant pieces that remain somewhat underused.

"Pretty Blue," by Norman Simmons and Joe Williams, paints a lovely picture of the happy feeling that we get when music fills the room and folks nestle in for an evening of comforting thoughts. "NOW!," by J. Billy VerPlanck and Leon Nock, sizzles slowly with heartfelt passion, creating an anticipatory moment. The song's positive message brings a smile to the faces of all parties concerned.

Dave Frishberg's "Little Did I Dream" adds a little light comedy to the program as VerPlanck interprets this swinging gem and adds a lovely scat chorus for emphasis. Her flexible voice, crystal clear diction, and uplifting delivery make things happen. "The End of a Love Affair" prances briskly with a confident Broadway theater air, while "Fool That I Am" simmers slowly with blasé regards. "Something Always Happens," a pensive ballad by Billy Taylor and Clarence Bullard, ushers in a romantic mood. VerPlanck delivers the message with velvet whispers and a toned-down demeanor.

She's at her best with the more forceful, driving tunes that sparkle with enthusiasm, such as "The Party Upstairs," which proves convincing in its interpretation. Ennui, nonchalance, and deep-rooted passion mix together in a musical collage of emotions as VerPlanck tells it like it is.

Track Listing: The Party Upstairs; I Keep Goin' Back to Joe's; Don't Fall in Love Without Me; Is it Raining in New York?; Pretty Blue; Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You; Something Always Happens; Moments Like This; Quietly There; The End of a Love Affair; Little Did I Dream; Fool That I Am; Yes!; Drinking Again; Look Who's Singing Your Song; NOW!.

Personnel: Marlene VerPlanck: vocals; J. "Billy" VerPlanck: arranger, conductor; Tedd Firth: piano; Steve LaSpina: bass; Richard DeRosa: drums; Bucky Pizzarelli: guitar on "Is it Raining in New York?" and "Quietly There;" Dr. Billy Taylor: piano on "Something Always Happens;" Norman Simmons: piano on "Pretty Blue;" Jerry Bruno: bass on "Is it Raining in New York?" and "Quietly There."

Record Label: Audiophile Records

Style: Vocal


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