Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

135

Ren: Live at Jazz Standard

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Have you ever had someone say to you, “You really missed your calling”? Well, René Marie (no last name given, and none necessary) really did miss hers. Happily for René Marie and those who’ve heard her sing, either live or on record, she was able to find it. Better late than never.

René Marie always wanted to be a singer but settled instead for a steady gig at a bank in Richmond, VA, before she mustered the courage to walk away from it five years ago and pursue her dream. Since then she has recorded three albums, the first two of which — How Can I Keep from Singing? and Vertigo — moved quicky to the top of the jazz charts. Her third, taped before an audience at the Jazz Standard in New York City, should have no trouble following that same path.

As suits her adventurous resumé (she also left her husband of twenty-three years when he opposed her plan to become a full-time singer), René Marie doesn’t shrink from taking chances. Not everything works — more about that in a moment — but there are more than enough musical highlights to make the album a clear winner, not all of them from René Marie herself. The rhythm section is world-class (where did she find these guys?), with pianist John Toomey in particular a standout whether comping or soloing.

René Marie is bright and sassy on “’Deed I Do,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “It Might as Well Be Spring” (despite a few lyric slip-ups) and the Gershwins’ “A Foggy Day” (on which she scats like Ella), mellow and plaintive on “I Loves You Porgy,” and absolutely breathtaking on the ingeniously spliced medley of Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” and Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” which includes a glorious two-minute a cappella introduction and marvelous backing by the trio, especially drummer Howard Curtis III (who later dazzles with brushes and sticks on “Foggy Day”).

René Marie wrote the ballad “Shelter in Your Arms” and the frisky tango “Paris on Ponce,” the last so captivating that the audience presses for an encore. She responds with an unaccompanied version of what may well become her “signature” song, “How Can I Keep from Singing?”

This is a largely pleasurable concert date, but as I suggested, one wherein not everything works flawlessly. The weakest moments (to these ears) surface on Rodgers and Hart’s “Where or When” and Eden Ahbez’s “Nature Boy,” the first of which embodies one of Tin Pan Alley’s loveliest melodies, one that, for some reason, René Marie abandons in favor of a more “modern” version (arranged by Toomey). It’s not devoid of charm, but there are times when the old ways are better than the new, and this is one of them. As for “Nature Boy,” she and her comrades simply linger far too long (nearly ten minutes) probing what is at bottom a lightweight tune, in spite of its enduring popularity.

Even so, what comes through loud and clear is that René Marie not only loves to sing but is a remarkably talented and resourceful singer — a combination that’s hard to beat. She’s living her dream, and warmly invites you to share it with her.

Contact: MaxJazz, 115 W. Lockwood Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63119. Phone 314–313–8178; fax 314–961–6074; web site: MaxJazz ; e–mail info@maxjazz.com

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live at Pyatt Hall CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Flying Heart CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Solano Canyon CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Chicago II" CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Telepathy & Bop" CD/LP/Track Review Telepathy & Bop
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 5, 2017
Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" CD/LP/Track Review EE-YA-GI (Stories)
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 19, 2017
Read "WAHOO!" CD/LP/Track Review WAHOO!
by Greg Simmons
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "In Transit" CD/LP/Track Review In Transit
by Kris Perdew
Published: November 2, 2017
Read "Mercerville" CD/LP/Track Review Mercerville
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 31, 2017