This week has seen me finally catch up with a jazz singer who was first recommended to me many years ago after my father heard one of her recordings played on Russell Davies' radio show. New Jersey born Marlene VerPlanck's career began as a big-band singer with Charlie Spivak and a stint with the famous Tommy Dorsey band. As musical fashions changed she became a studio vocalist and was the singing voice for hundreds of advertisements for American TV in the 1960s and beyond. Having worked as a backing vocalist for such luminaries as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, Ms VerPlanck emerged as a solo performer in the 1970s and has released many solo recordings since then. Currently on her 26th annual March tour to the UK, Ms VerPlanck sold out her engagement at Ronnie Scott's and has been playing at other jazz clubs and theatres throughout the country.

In actual fact, the term 'jazz' is too restricting for Ms VerPlanck's repertoire, as she sings – and swings – songs from the great American songbook and carefully-chosen new material of that ilk in her own inimitable style. Ms VerPlanck has sung and recorded a fair amount of musical theatre repertoire too, including an album of Richard Adler songs requested by the renowned composer of Damn Yankees and The Pajama Game himself, and a number of Cy Coleman tracks, including a sultry version of 'Baby Dream Your Dream' from Sweet Charity. Ms VerPlanck's current set, featuring her latest CD release 'I Give Up, I'm in Love' (a quirky and recently-written number about the perils of falling in love) features two Stephen Sondheim numbers which she reinterprets in her own style. Merrily We Roll Along's 'Good Thing Going' works well in a faster-paced jazzier version, sung reflectively at the passing of a relationship, while Saturday Night's beautiful 'So Many People' (a song I first heard Barbara Cook sing live some years ago) has a lovely yearning quality in the storytelling.

Ms VerPlanck has a remarkable clarity of tone and diction to her singing, putting love and passion – as well as great understanding – into the lyrics. Her voice is a true instrument which is used to great effect, with careful phrasing and a wide range, coupled with a natural and unfussy stage presence, great musical rapport with her trio of musicians, an affinity with a close-up audience and the confident ease of an experienced singer. Rodgers and Hart’s ‘I Didn’t Know What Time It Was’ is given zest, while Carolyn Leigh’s ‘How Little We Know’ is full of the sense of wonder at a journey into the unknown. A romance medley includes a beautifully-stated version of ‘My Romance’. For her closing number, Marlene VerPlanck returned to the Broadway stage with ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’ from Rodgers and Hammerstein's State Fair – appropriate for an occasionally spring-like March, the month that she visits the UK annually. The versatile and engaging Marlene VerPlanck is obviously in her element when performing and has great melody throughout her set – suffice it to say that more lauded singers of inferior talent have played West End seasons or the arena stage rather than the more exposed confines of the intimate venues that she is playing. As for Dad’s verdict that Marlene VerPlanck is ‘world class’, it’s impossible to disagree...surely we won’t delay so long before seeing her live again.

Marlene VerPlanck’s tour dates and other information may be found at