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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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MARLENE VERPLANCK

Ballads...Mostly

Audiophile ACD 343

 

 

1. I Wish I Knew
2. Witchcraft
3. My Dream Is Yours
4. Love Dance
5. I Only Have Eyes For You
6. It Amazes Me
7. Baby Dream Your Dream
8. There Will Never Be Another You
9. The Rules Of The Road
10. I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life
11. I Walk A Little Faster
12. Listen To The Piano Man
13. Why Try To Change Me Now?
14. You Fascinate Me So
15. Why Was I Thinking Of Springtime?

Marlene VerPlanck - Vocals
Mike Renzi - Piano (tracks 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13)
Tedd Firth - Piano (tracks 1, 4, 7, 9, 12, 14, 15)
Houston Person - Tenor sax (tracks 1, 3, 8, 13)
Claudio Roditi - Trumpet (tracks 2, 4, 9, 11)
Jay Leonhart - Bass (tracks 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13)
Boots Maleson - Bass (tracks 1, 4, 7, 9, 12, 14, 15)
Ron Vincent - Drums

 

At first glance, you might think that this is just another vocalist performing just one more CD of the Great American Songbook. But this album differs in several important ways. Certainly the repertoire is taken from the American Songbook, but Marlene VerPlanck searches out unfamiliar songs. No fewer than seven of the songs were written by Cy Coleman with various collaborators, all arranged by Marlene's late husband, Billy VerPlanck. Coleman is one of America's lesser-known composers, but he wrote the music for the musical Sweet Charity as well as such hits as Witchcraft, Another four songs on the album were composed by Harry Warren.

As well as choosing unhackneyed songs, Marlene also extends their appeal by often singing the verses which precede the actual songs. For example we get to hear the rarely-heard verses of I Wish I Knew and I Only Have Eyes For You. And Marlene enunciates lyrics clearly, as well as having better intonation than you might expect for a lady approaching her eightieth birthday. She has a light, intimate voice, occasionally approaching Blossom Dearie territory. On Love Dance she holds the final note for nearly 20 seconds!

In addition to the excellent vocals, this album benefits from contributions by some notable guest artists. Tenorist Houston Person is his usual melodic self, adding particularly fine solos to My Dream Is Yours and Why Try To Change Me Now? Claudio Roditi supplies pleasant solos on Witchcraft and The Rules Of The Road. Claudio is listed as playing the trumpet but it sounds more like a flugelhorn on some tracks.

As the album title suggests, the songs are mostly ballads, which are fine for relaxing listening, although an up-tempo song might have supplied a touch of variety. Baby Dream Your Dream (by Cy Coleman & Dorothy Fields) and Listen To The Piano Man are mid-tempo. The recording is admirably clear, although the drummer is virtually inaudible - a tendency I notice on an increasing number of albums.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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