Skip to News / Media site navigationSkip to main content

A Celebration of Ella Fitzgerald and Guitarist Joe Pass

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)September 14, 2005

(Mahwah) – Jazz at the Berrie Center presents a celebration of Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass on Friday, October 21 at 8 p.m. in the Sharp Theater on the campus of Ramapo College of New Jersey.  Marlene VerPlanck and Bucky Pizzarelli, two of New Jersey’s own, come together for a celebration of the collaboration between Fitzgerald and her guitarist, Joe Pass.

Ella and Joe recorded together for many years, including such standards as You Go To My Head,” Speak Low” and These Foolish Things.”  VerPlanck and Pizzarelli bring their own style and beauty to the songs in this tribute.

Marlene VerPlanck got her start in the big-band business, as a young vocalist with Charlie Spivak and Tex Beneke.  During a brief stint with the last Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, she met her husband, musician-arranger Billy VerPlanck.  She became a studio singer, backing up vocalists ranging from Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme to Kiss. Following appearances on Alec Wilder’s 1970s National Public Radio series, American Popular Songs,” VerPlanck emerged as a leading solo performer.  Appearances at Carnegie Hall, Michael’s Pub and the Rainbow Room brought rave notices.  In a Digital Mood, featuring VerPlanck, Mel Torme and Julius LaRosa with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, was the first big-band CD to go gold.  At the request of Richard Adler, the renowned composer of Damn Yankees and The Pajama Game, she recorded some of Adler’s most memorable music, contained on a CD titled You Gotta Have Heart: The Songs of Richard Adler.  VerPlanck performs across North America and much of Western Europe, while a growing roster of solo CDs continues to win critical acclaim.  Her albums feature arrangements scored by her husband, with accompaniment by many of America’s finest musicians.

For more than half a century, John Bucky” Pizzarelli has helped keep mainstream and traditional jazz alive.  The list of big bands and vocalists with whom he has performed and recorded reads like a Who’s Who of Jazz.  Pizzarelli has been a fixture in jazz and the studios since the early 1950s.  At the age of 17 he toured with Vaughan Monroe’s dance band, which he re-joined (after military service) in 1946.  In 1952 he joined the staff of NBC and played in the Doc Severinson Band on the Tonight Show.  After touring for two years with the Three Suns trio, he returned to New York to work in recording studios and as a freelance musician.  He played and toured with Benny Goodman, forming a close association with him that lasted until Goodman’s death.  He also led his own trio and recorded duos with Zoot Sims (1976), Bud Freeman (1975), Stephane Grappelli (1979) and his son John (1981).  Along with being a dedicated conservator of the old guitar music and the early styles of playing, Pizzarelli also has developed a very personal style that sets him apart.  Recordings like Love Songs and New York Swing present a picture of the complete jazz musician and guitarist who moves effortlessly from soloist to playing solid, swinging rhythm and single string solos in an ensemble setting.

A post-performance dessert and wine reception with the artists will be held in the Berrie Center.  A combination performance and reception ticket entitles patrons to priority seating at the concert, reserved parking and a dessert buffet.

Combination gala/concert tickets are $50 per person.  General tickets for the performance only are $24 for adults, $21 for senior citizens and $12 for youth.  The Sharp Theater is located at the Angelica and Russ Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts on the Ramapo College campus.  For more information call 201.684.7844.

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per

Ramapo College provides its students with individualized attention, mentorship, and supports; hands-on learning; and a range of opportunities for service and leadership development. Its graduation and retention rates exceed national averages and it places approximately 1,000 students per year in internships in New York City. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice; is recognized as the state’s top college on the list of Best Disability Schools by Great Value Colleges; is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools; and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others.  

Ramapo College’s over 40,000 alumni are the confident, intellectually curious, self-aware, and humble people who are highly sought after and who make a positive impact at local, national, and global levels.  Ramapo College is distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by Every student at Ramapo is enrolled in its unique and award winning Pathways Program which equips and empowers students, across the continuum of their academic career, to secure internships, pursue graduate/professional school, and/or enter the job market. 

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


Press Release Archives

| 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 |