It's How You Play the Game

Marlene VerPlanck

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It's How You Play the Game Review

by Ken Dryden

Marlene VerPlanck is a veteran singer who still has plenty to offer jazz fans after nearly a half century as a professional. Her vocals are consistently clear, mellow, and swinging in this program dominated by show tunes. But her choices aren't ones that have exactly been done to death at the start of the 21st century. She soars in the bright bossa nova scoring of "I Got Lost in His Arms," while her warmth is obvious in "Be Careful, It's My Heart." The singer's enthusiasm is contagious in "I Wanna Be in Love Again," while her playful scatting seems effortless in the buoyant "Love Looks Good on You." Her husband, Billy VerPlanck, contributed the arrangements and two originals, the lovely ballad "Cocktails at Dawn" and "It's How You Play the Game," the latter, unfortunately, stands out like a sore thumb due to the annoying (and unaccredited) electric keyboards. But the band is a superb one, featuring no fewer than six members of the exciting big band Diva: drummer Sherrie Maricle, alto saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer, clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Anat Cohen, pianist Chihiro Yamanaka, trumpeter Barbara Laronga, and bassist Norika Ueda.

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