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Marlene Verplanck: I Give Up, I’m In Love

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At age 81 Marlene VerPlanck remains as plucky as ever. Her voice is increasingly tremulous, her range foreshortened, but 23 albums into a career that started with the big bands of Charlie Spivak and Tommy Dorsey her verve and insight are undiminished.

On three of these dozen tracks, VerPlanck recalls her earliest days, fronting Glenn Franke’s big band on a scorching “The Way You Look Tonight,” a cool midtempo “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” and a blissful shimmy through the obscure Johnny Mandel title track, trimmed with a sparkling cornet solo by Warren Vaché. For the balance of the album, VerPlanck splits her time between equally venerable trios. Teamed with pianist Tedd Firth, bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Ron Vincent, she explores the sweet ache of Stephen Sondheim’s “Good Thing Going”; the urbane adieu of the Sammy Cahn/Lew Spence rarity “So Long, My Love,” featuring typically ace tenor soloing by Harry Allen; and the warm lilt of another little-known Spence gem, “You’re Really Someone to Write Home About.”

Sticking with Vincent but swapping Firth for Mike Renzi and Leonhart for David Finck, she wades into an easy-swinging “How Little We Know,” keeps the mood light and bright on “My Little Brown Book,” slows for a misty reading of Peggy Lee’s “Where Can I Go Without You” and, returning to Sondheim, closes with a chiffon-wrapped “So Many People.”

Originally Published