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June 2007

Marlene VerPlanck
My Impetuous Heart
DRG Records

Tempting as it is to suggest that ever-dependable Marlene VerPlanck has done it again, serving up yet another platter of luscious standards and rarities, truth is she did it eight years ago. Produced, arranged and even promoted by hubby Bill VerPlanck, this collection of 18 tracks (with the VerPlancks it’s always about quantity and quality) was originally recorded with the Hank Jones Trio and released in 2000.

Remarkably for a VerPlank album, there’s not a single Johnny Mandel tune. Instead, there’s a double dip into the Marilyn and Alan Bergman songbook, with the gorgeously fragile Peggy Lee anthem “You Must Believe in Spring” and, written with Burton Lane, the dreamy “I Can Hardly Wait.” There are also double nods to Johnny Mercer (a surprisingly breezy “Travelin’ Light” and a delightfully carnivalesque “How Little We Know”), Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen (“Call Me Irresponsible” and the infectiously bouncy “Love Won’t Let You Get Away”), and Billy himself, with the sweetly earnest “The Day I Found You” and the soft-swingin’ title track.

But it is guest artists, not songwriters, who have the greatest impact. Bucky Pizzarelli beautifully enhances VerPlanck’s innate Lee Wiley-ness on Bev Kelly and Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes,” Marian McPartland provides a gentle undercurrent of wistfulness on her own “Willow Creek,” and George Shearing is on hand to lovingly enhance the delicate folds of “You Must Believe in Spring” and add precisely the right touch of sophisticated ennui to Hammerstein and Kern’s “All in Fun.”

Originally published in June 2007
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