“Red! Leather! Spiked! High! Heels!” So begins the aptly titled Serene Renegade, the high-struttin’, kickass, all-the-things-she-is latest from MaxJazz magician Rene Marie. This album righteously confirms the dynamic Virginia-born stylist’s place alongside Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves and Patricia Barber at the forefront of contemporary female vocalists. “Red Shoes,” a sexy, sassy nod to Rene’s sister, Lynn, is just one of nine Marie originals that sate this magnificent exercise in musical eclecticism. Her bracingly triumphant “The South Is Mine,” a fiery, soul-stirring statement of personal emancipation that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” and Nina Simone’s “Four Women,” follows. Then there’s the exquisite “Wishes,” a reverent, Joni Mitchell-esque treatise on turning desire into action.
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