Marlene Ver Planck: The Mood I’m In

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Marlene VerPlanck

The Mood I’m In


January 4, 2016

Reviewed by Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes

verplanck moodThis is an elegant compilation of standards, familiar and neglected, as well as a few numbers you’re unlikely to know. Marlene VerPlanck has a way of sharing discoveries. Vocals are so fluid, they sound like breathing.  A mellow CD supported by musicians with unquestionable finesse.

If the title song by Paul Francis Webster/Pete King doesn’t brighten your spirits, I’d frankly worry. At the least you should be unconsciously swaying. The song is persistently optimistic despite its relationship’s past. A frisky horn solo sounds like melodic doodling. “Certain People” (Ronny Whyte/John Bunch) is a sophisticated musical conversation between instruments of which the vocal is just one.

Listen to the different voices and the way they respond to one another.

“It Shouldn’t Happen to a Dream” (Duke Ellington/Johnny Hodges/ Don George) arrives on barely audible percussive brushes and VerPlanck’s elongated “S.” Sighed lyric is wistful. Piano sounds affectionate; trombone has the sensitivity of a muted trumpet. Billy Eckstine’s “I Want to Talk About You” is a slow dance in candlelight, a perfect anniversary song. The vocalist so clearly embraces the lyric, one imagines warmth in her eyes, memory in her heart. Delicate flute is like a playful bird on a light breeze.

The CD is rife with romance, successful and un-. “All Too Soon” (Duke Ellington/Carl Sigman) showcases honeyed trombone. “And with you went my dream…All too soon…” emerges with eloquent hesitance as if real time recollection.

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 The song is eminently introspective. “For you whispered goodbye…all too soon.” Again, it sounds as if the singer can’t let go. I doubt VerPlanck overthinks this. She seems in touch with her emotions, imbuing lyrics with natural sincerity.

“‘Me and the Blues,’ we spend a lot of time together…” (Ted Koehler/Harry Warren) is a shrug and a saunter epitomized by short phrases with long tails. A shadowy horn fills space behind and between. Not till the end does sentiment become declarative, at which point it exits with a nod and a tipped hat. This is one of two very Dashiell Hammett-like songs. The other is the Paul Vandervoort/Benny Carter “My Kind of Trouble Is You” which, despite modestly bright swing, evokes noir images of long gams (legs), drooping cigarettes and whiskey straight up.

Curiously, “Too Late Now” (Alan Jay Lerner/Burton Lane) is so paced and thoughtful, it seems melancholy instead of hopeful. Piano is so specific, it contrives a vocal duet. We’re left with airbrushing.

With John Pearce (piano), Paul Morgan (bass), Bobby Worth (drums), Mark Nightingale (trombone), Andy Panayi(sax; flute).

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen’s writing began with poetry, segued into lyrics then took a commercial detour. She now authors pieces about culture/the arts, including reviews and features. A diehard proponent of cabaret, she’s also a theater aficionado, a voting member of Drama Desk, The Drama League and of The NY Press Club in addition to MAC. Currently, Alix writes for Cabaret Scenes, Theater Pizzazz and Woman Around Town. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine and Times Square Chronicles. Alix is the recipient of six New York Press Club Awards.