Jazz singers are not on the top of the charts, however, a few names get regularly tossed about. Not a single one of those commonly repeated names have a strong sense of individuality. I’m not even going to bother mentioning their names. If you’re a Jazz listener, you know; if not, it’s no matter. They’re boring mimics of some middle of the road concept of Jazz vocalization. They sing songs as pallidly as the paper they’re written on. That’s not Jazz.
Jazz is about taking someone else’s music and making it your own. Turning it into a new revelation of what the song is about, or using the skeleton of the music to form a new figure around it. Some argue that few ever did that, and even fewer do it today. I’d have to agree, the most creative, imaginative, and original rarely made it to the top of the charts even back when Jazz was popular. Reason being, big hits and big names don’t make it on big individuality. They make it on keeping in line. Those who stand alone are often left alone.
René Marie is out of line—too far to make the top 20 list of female Jazz singers. No matter, many on the list are dead—you might say, like Jazz. History has proven, though, that music never dies. It may pass in and out of style, but art that speaks always finds an ear that listens.
Let your ears listen—
I Only Have Eyes for You
Is Marie a contrarian? She doesn’t sound like anyone else. She puts a pronounced personal spin on standards. She lays strong expressive nuances into her voice. She hasn’t buckled to commercial pressures. She doesn’t play it safe. She speaks out. She speaks up. That’s not the middle ground; that’s not being a conformist. Recently she’s gotten some media attention—I’m going to ignore it. It may simply be the scarcity of others on the playing field. It may be she’s finally getting some deserved attention. It may be a fluke. No matter, she’s the only living Jazz singer on my list. She reminds me of another out-of-line singer, Betty Carter, not by her singing style, but by her living style, and her artistic integrity.
I had a hard time deciding on the cuts to sample. There are too many powerful pieces on this album. Don’t cheat yourself with individual downloads. If your ears can hear her, get the whole album.
(||) Rating — Music : A ║ Performance : A ║ Recording : A- ║ René Marie, Vertigo, MAXJAZZ, 2001