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Album Review

Rene Marie's second CD for MaxJazz is, for the most part, a very enjoyable CD. This extremely gifted singer has a very appealing voice and is a talented arranger as well. Her playful arrangement of "Them There Eyes," with bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, is very refreshing, with some fine scat singing, too. Her unusually deliberate and rather sexy take of "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" adds pianist Mulgrew Miller and also has some fine scat singing, too. Her Latin chart for "I Only Have Eyes for You" proves catchy, with some tasty guitar playing from John Hart. "It's All Right With Me" is slowed to a snail's pace with Chris Potter's noodling bass clarinet and Hurst's brooding bass backing her powerful vocal. "Vertigo," another Marie original, is easily the most exciting piece on the session. The only occasion when she follows anything resembling an expected path is her lush treatment of the ballad "Detour Ahead" in a memorable duet with Miller. There are some weak spots. The original "Don't Look at Me Like That" is monotonous filler; while the Beatles' "Blackbird" is drastically rewritten with a tedious vamp that gives the song a somewhat ominous sound, but it grows tiresome quickly. The medley of "Dixie" (a song reviled by most African-Americans) and "Strange Fruit" (with its dramatic description of lynching) invites controversy. She sings "Dixie" a cappella with a possible touch of sarcasm, then the band is added for the shift into the piece that was first put on the map by Billie Holiday, introduced with almost a funeral march-like cadence. Somehow Rene Marie's lovely voice seems inappropriate for this song, as she doesn't reflect the anguish of its lyrics very consistently. Even with these reservations, this is a highly recommended CD.


Born: November 7, 1955 in Warrenton, VA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '90s, '00s

Virginia native and Atlanta resident Rene Marie is a recognizable, fairly unpredictable jazz vocalist who — depending on her mood — can be quirky and playful one minute, but bluesy, soulful, or sexy the next. The singer, who is blessed with an impressive range, has a variety of influences. Marie shows her appreciation of Betty Carter on some of her quirkier performances, while her more bluesy and soulful leanings underscore her fondness of Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington,...
Full Bio
Vertigo, Rene Marie
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