Rene Marie, Vertigo

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews


Rene Marie
A boppish collection from one of the most underrated female singers in jazz.

Rene Marie is the most underrated female singer in jazz or any other idiom. A Virginia-based vocalist who postponed her career to raise a family, Marie, now 51, splits the difference between the innovative, horn-like agility of the late Betty Carter and the breathy caresses of Cassandra Wilson. Live at Jazz Standard (2003) has more goosebump-inducing ballads, and Serene Renegade (2004) demonstrates her personal growth as a songwriter, but Vertigo features an all-star ensemble (Mulgrew Miller/Robert Hurst/'Tain Watts/Chris Potter) propelling her through her most boppish collection. Marie delightfully hopscotches through the title track and “Them There Eyes,” but the most impressive and diverse performances are the oh-so slinky, campy-sexy version of the standard “Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” and a stunning but sobering medley of “Dixie” and “Strange Fruit.”