159

Ren: Vertigo

Mathew Bahl By

Sign in to view read count
Ren: Vertigo Few debut records in recent memory have held as much promise as René Marie’s How Can I Keep from Singing?. Any thoughts that the jazz singer might hit a sophomore slump with her second CD for MAXJAZZ are dispelled only seconds into Vertigo. A bold and challenging record, Vertigo subverts expectations while at the same time reaffirming the singer’s deep commitment to jazz and the popular song.

The CD opens with a tour de force “Them There Eyes.” Backed only by bass and drums, Ms. Marie reinvents the tune dancing across the lyrics and trading fours with drummer Jeff Watts. It is a performance that rivals the great Sheila Jordan at her most inventive. Betty Carter recreated Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Surrey With The Fringe On Top” and Lena Horne made it sound sexy. René Marie does both and she does both better. Artie Shaw’s “Moonray” serves as a vehicle for both Ms. Marie’s percussive scat singing and Chris Potter’s powerful tenor saxophone. Pianist Mulgrew Miller plays with his customary lyrical grace on this and five other tracks, including a moving voice & piano rendition of “Detour Ahead.” However, Mr. Watts and especially bassist Robert Hurst prove to be the key instrumental voices on the CD. Ms. Marie sings a slow, intense “It’s All Right With Me” accompanied only by Mr. Hurst’s bass and trailed by Mr. Potter’s bass clarinet. Percussion joins bass and drums to back the singer on a sexy, latinized “I Only Have Eyes for You” and an exotic transformation of Lennon & McCartney’s “Blackbird.”

Ms. Marie continues to develop her impressive talent for songwriting. Her lyrics, as exemplified by the bluesy “I’d Rather Talk About You” and the unorthodox “Don’t Look At Me Like That” are wonderfully unforced. The latter tune also features an excellent solo by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. Musically, “Vertigo” is the most complex and ambitious of Ms. Marie's original tunes.

The CD’s most powerful moment comes in an unexpected pairing of “Dixie” and “Strange Fruit.” Without the slightest hint of pretension, Ms. Marie moves from a gospel-like, a capella rendition of the Confederate anthem into a searing performance of the anti-lynching song first introduced by Billie Holiday in 1939. This medley perhaps best exemplifies what makes Rene Marie so remarkable – her willingness to take risks that have emotional as well as musical pay offs.


Track Listing: Them There Eyes; Surrey With The Fringe On Top; I'd Rather Talk About You; Don't Look At Me Like That; I Only Have Eyes For You; It's Alright With Me; Vertigo; Detour Ahead; Moonray; Dixie/Strange Fruit; Blackbird. (Total Time: 67.11).

Personnel: Ren

Title: Vertigo | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: MAXJAZZ


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read Flesh & Bone CD/LP/Track Review Flesh & Bone
by Troy Collins
Published: August 22, 2017
Read Generations CD/LP/Track Review Generations
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 22, 2017
Read 90 Going On Amazing CD/LP/Track Review 90 Going On Amazing
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Alom Mola" CD/LP/Track Review Alom Mola
by John Eyles
Published: May 10, 2017
Read "Nine Thoughts For One Word" CD/LP/Track Review Nine Thoughts For One Word
by John Ephland
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "The Crave" CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Unification" CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 12, 2017
Read "Skarkali" CD/LP/Track Review Skarkali
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 26, 2016
Read "Trail Magic" CD/LP/Track Review Trail Magic
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 19, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.