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Ren: Vertigo

Jim Santella By

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Accurate and crisp with a soulful delivery, singer René Marie brings new life to old standards. These are the songs that we recognize automatically. All it takes is a few bars. Natural and personable, Marie brings her second recording as a leader around as straight-ahead and familiar. She pushes the envelope far enough, however, to prove her point: that jazz can entertain and venture into creative territory at the same time. Her arrangements allow plenty of room for freedom. With Chris Potter and Bob Hurst, for example, she turns "It's All Right With Me" into a spiritual encounter. The title track, an original, celebrates her adventurous intentions with Latin jazz landscapes superimposed over quirky syncopation from Potter and pianist Mulgrew Miller. Conversing wildly, the two instrumentalists meld with rhythm section and vocalist to push in all directions. Scatting and storytelling, Marie summons up the spirits of modern jazz. Her natural talent allows standards to fall gently into place, while Marie's thirst for creative adventure introduces much more. Surrounded by a stellar cast, she's able to exercise that authority among like-minded artists. Her voice quality and superb musicianship recall Irene Kral, while Marie's artistic courage moves her far beyond the usual. It's a highly recommended outing from an outstanding jazz artist.

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