Marlene VerPlanck – I Give Up, I’m In Love

November 30, 2014

Marlene VerPlanck I Give Up, I’m In Love (Audiophile ACD-347)

Admirers of Marlene VerPlanck will need no telling that the standards she set for herself more than 20 albums ago are as high as ever and that on her latest release she reaches, indeed surpasses these standards with insouciant ease. Another expected aspect of Marlene’s albums is her song choice. Unfailingly, she finds examples from the Great American Song Book that have flowing melodies and intelligent lyrics, and she matches these with newer songs with similar pedigree. Here, the repertoire presents love songs, the staple of that Song Book, and Marlene’s interpretations are warm, profound and flawless. Among the songs, some are familiar: How Little We Know (Carolyn Leigh, Philip Springer), The Way You Look Tonight (Dorothy Fields, Jerome Kern), and I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers). Perhaps a little less familiar but equally pleasing are You’re Really Someone To Write Home About (Roger Schore, Lew Spencer), I Love The Way You Dance (Frank Grant, Ronny Whyte), I Give Up, I’m In Love (Morgan Ames, Johnny Mandel), and My Little Brown Book (Billy Strayhorn). The melodic grace with which Marlene performs this music is underscored by exceptional accompaniment. On five tracks, she is joined by the trio of Mike Renzi, piano, David Finck, bass, and Ron Vincent, drums, with Warren Vaché playing cornet on two tracks and tenor saxophonist Harry Allen on two. On four tracks, the trio has Tedd Firth, piano, and Jay Leonhart, bass, with Vincent, while Allen appears on two selections. Glenn Franke’s Big Band provides powerful backing for Marlene on the remaining three tracks, on two of which they are joined by Vaché. All these instrumentalists provide exceptional accompaniment, granting the singer richly-deserved settings. Interspersed solos from Vaché and Allen and Rienzi and Firth are exemplary and add immeasurably to the occasion.

give_upAnd what of the singer’s sound? In past years I have reviewed many of Marlene’s albums, chiefly for Jazz Journal. Two recent albums appear also on this site: One Dream At A Time (mid-July 2012) and Ballads . . mostly (mid-May 2013). When writing of Marlene’s voice on that last album I observed: “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.” A year on and there is not a word there that I would want to change. Come 2015 and Marlene will embark on her twenty-fifth tour of the UK. Her schedule is now released: the tour starts on 4 March 2015 and runs through 16 engagements, including Ronnie Scott’s and Wavendon, and concludes on 22 March. On this tour, she will be accompanied by John Pearce, piano, Paul Morgan, bass, and Bobby Worth, drums, while on the final date she will once again meet John Ruddick and the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra. Full details of locations, dates, times, phone numbers, email addresses, etc, can be found on Marlene’s own site. In the meantime, the impending winter nights will be much warmer and brighter thanks to this exceptional album.

For Marlene VerPlanck’s latest album, or indeed any and all of earlier releases go as usual to Amazon.


One Response to “Marlene VerPlanck – I Give Up, I’m In Love”

  1. Kathy davies on March 20th, 2015 9:17 pm

    A marvellous evening in Swansea Jazzland on Wednesday – blown away by the repertoire and Marlene’s marvellous grace and ease in performance; exceptional and continual surprises with how the songs were delivered.
    So great she is touring in this country – a master class and having played her Ballads Mostly album today what wonderful musicians backing up her exquisite delivery; a class act!

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