From New York comes news that the singer Marlene VerPlanck died today at 84. She reportedly had pancreatic cancer but managed to keep the illness a secret from nearly everyone. Beginning in the 1960s Ms. VerPlanck worked closely with her husband Billy as a studio musician, singing in commercial jingles. In the 1970s she began singing in jazz clubs and at festivals and appeared at Carnegie Hall. Billy VerPlanck died in 2009. By then his wife’s career as a jazz performer had blossomed. She was in demand in the US and became popular in Europe, particularly in Great Britain, appearing at Ronnie Scott’s club in London and touring in England and on the continent.
Here she is in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in 2014 with Maxim Baghuis at the piano and Erk Albjerg on bass.
Having spent a bit of time with her at the 2016 Ystad Jazz Festival in Sweden, I can tell you that Ms. VerPlanck was a delight to be with, gracious and funny. For a short Rifftides review of the Ystad appearance, go here.
Marlene VerPlanck, RIP