Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Rene Marie

Geoff Anderson By

Sign in to view read count

René Marie
November 1, 2008 (First Set)
Dazzle Nightclub


René Marie is a jazz singer, and one of the better ones in the business these days. She performs the standards and often does so in a straight ahead, straightforward but still unique manner. She's not content to exclusively reinterpret the jazz songbook, however. She writes her own songs and is also known to occasionally select a pop song not typically heard in a jazz context or, more dramatically, to weld together two very different songs for artistic and ironic effect. Her most vivid example of that is her unlikely pairing of "Dixie" with "Strange Fruit," as heard on Vertigo (2001, Max Jazz). Saturday night at Dazzle, Marie stuck mainly to the standards, but also worked in the ironic drama.

Marie started the show by explaining that she wanted to perform a program of "jazz comfort food" because we could all use some comfort right now. She didn't mention the election which was only three days away at that point, but it seemed the obvious implication. As the set unfolded, another theme emerged; the seasons. She sang about spring, autumn and finally summertime. (Hey it's almost ski season, what happened to winter?) The changing of the seasons is, of course, a pretty obvious metaphor for the presidential campaign with both candidates chanting "change" like a mantra.

Marie has an unusually expressive voice. She can whisper, plead, demand, sing sweet as pie, lay on the grit, erupt in rage, shift from one to another instantly and do it all in the course of one song if need be. She can be playful or dead serious. Saturday night she mostly displayed her playful side. For the opener, "Hard Day's Night" she convinced the audience to sing along, but felt it necessary to quickly state the lyrics before each phrase "for the young people in the audience." Good grief, there are people that don't know every word of that song? Now that makes me feel old. Where's the comfort?

The rhythm section of Eric Gunnison, piano, Mark Simon, bass and Paul Romaine, drums includes some of the finest players in Denver on their instruments, which is to say, some of the finest musicians in the country. They also form the rhythm section of the band Convergence. Gunnison is always a delight with his tasteful accompaniment and intricate, inventive solos. Simon melodically holds down the bottom and Romaine on drums keeps time and adds continual flourishes. Together, they're rock solid and form a foundation that will support the pyramids. These guys spend their time so deep in the pocket they all have lint growing out of their ears.

Most of the tunes of the evening were relatively straight forward, at least by René Marie standards, but she and band completely reworked "Summertime" which came about two thirds of the way through the set. They only occasionally stated the theme and even then with the utmost subtlety. Marie rushed through the lyrics and instead spent most of her time scatting to the revamped vamp.

The high point of the set, however, was the closer, her own unique medley of Ravel's "Bolero" and Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne," a tune popularized by Roberta Flack. She explained that these were two of her father's favorite songs. When he died during a time she wasn't speaking to him because of a father-daughter spat, she felt guilty. This arrangement of these two songs has been her attempt to make up with him. She starts by stating the "Bolero" theme a cappella, in a jazzy sort of way. Then the snare drum quietly enters with the somewhat militaristic and incessant beat from "Bolero." Marie then switches to the lyrics from "Suzanne." In true "Bolero" form, the dynamics and intensity build to a dramatic and satisfying climax.

René Marie makes her home in the Denver area and performs in the area several times a year. Even with her frequent performances, her shows regularly sell out and it's no wonder. I've thought for some time that Marie is in the top tier of living female jazz vocalists and her performances continue to prove that point.

Set List: "Hard Day's Night," "Lover Man," "It Might as Well be Spring," "'Tis Autumn," "This is All I Ask," "Summertime," "Surry with the Fringe on Top," "Bolero/Suzanne."

The Band: René Marie, vocals, Eric Gunnison, piano, Mark Simon, bass, Paul Romaine, drums.


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Date Detail Price
8:00 pm
René Marie
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Philadelphia, PA
6:00 pm
Rene Marie & Delfaeyo Marsalis
Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
Pittsburgh, PA

Related Articles

Read Jazz Migration 2018 Live Reviews
Jazz Migration 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot Live Reviews
Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot
by Doug Hall
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290 Live Reviews
Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290
by Martin McFie
Published: December 9, 2018
Read U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Live Reviews
U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 9, 2018
Read David Johansen at The Space at Westbury Live Reviews
David Johansen at The Space at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 9, 2018
Read Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: December 8, 2018
Read "48th Annual Pitt Jazz Seminar" Live Reviews 48th Annual Pitt Jazz Seminar
by Mackenzie Horne
Published: November 18, 2018
Read "Dixie Dregs at Lincoln Theatre" Live Reviews Dixie Dregs at Lincoln Theatre
by Eric Thiessen
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Dave Stryker Quartet at Nighttown" Live Reviews Dave Stryker Quartet at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 24, 2018