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.
Track Listing: My Impetuous Heart; Fools Fall In Love; Can
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."
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.