Rene Marie: Vertigo

Every once in a while an album comes along and catches you completely unawares. Rene Marie’s latest is just such an accomplishment. I’d heard Marie’s previous MaxJazz release, How Can I Keep From Singing?, and been suitably impressed. Little did it prepare me, though, for the sheer brilliance of her follow up, Vertigo (MaxJazz MXJ 114; 67:11). One of the most sensuous songbirds ever captured on disc, Marie’s torch burns hotter, and oft-times brighter, than any of her peers. “Them There Eyes” is as bubbly and bracing as iced Cristal, while “It’s All Right With Me” crackles with the illicit anticipation. She can also use her talents to chilling effect, as evidenced by the powerful pairing of “Dixie” and “Strange Fruit,” and her eerily evocative reinterpretation of the Beatles’ “Blackbird.” None of the album’s tracks can, however, quite compare with “Surrey With the Fringe on Top.” Marie magically transforms Rodgers and Hammerstein’s rollicking romp through Midwest cornfields into six-and-a-half minutes of sinfully satisfying foreplay. Delicious.