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Marlene Verplanck: Once There Was a Moon

Every one of the previous 19 albums from the VerPlancks (it is impossible to discuss Marlene without including her constant professional, and personal, companion: producer, arranger, conductor, composer and husband Billy) has proven a delightful exercise in musical excavation, and their 20th collaboration continues the welcomed tradition.

The VerPlancks open this latest smorgasbord with “I’m in Love Again,” not the jaunty Cole Porter tune so strongly associated with Bobby Short but the lesser-known Peggy Lee-Cy Coleman ballad, here loosed from the downy dreaminess of Lee’s ’64 original and transformed into two minutes of scorching desire. As for Porter, Marlene and Billy deliver both the familiar (a supple, silken “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”) and the comparatively obscure (a sweet ‘n’ lively “Everything I Love”). Ditto Irving Berlin, with the propulsive “The Best Thing for You” and pensive “Better Luck Next Time” offset by the far less frequently heard, but equally sublime, “You’re Laughing at Me.”

Even rarer plunder includes “What Are You Afraid Of,” Jack Segal and Robert Wells’ coy homage to sexual pursuit, and “Where Do You Go From Love,” Charles DeForest’s playful dissection of a Manhattan sophisticate’s post-relationship blues. Of course, no VerPlanck disc would be complete without something new from Billy. Here he adds the romantic conquest ditty “Around Half Past Nine” (written with Ray Hoffman) and the billowy title track (with Leon Nock) to Marlene’s already overflowing repertoire.

Originally Published