René Marie: The Very Thought of You


The Very Thought of You


René Marie (vocals)


How Can I Keep from Singing? (MAXJAZZ 109)

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René Marie (vocals), Mulgrew Miller (piano), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums).

Composed by Ray Noble


Recorded: New York City, Jan. 13 & 14, 2000


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

René Stevens was singing professionally at age 17, but marriage and raising a family resulted in her abandoning performing for more than 20 years. Her daring decision to once again pursue a singing career led to the breakup of her marriage and the end of a secure position at a bank. After independently producing her first CD, Renaissance, under her married name René Croan, she was signed by MAXJAZZ two years later, at which point she decided to become known as René Marie, adopting her middle name as her last. Her How Can I Keep from Singing? release garnered critical acclaim for the then 44-year-old "new discovery." Today Marie is back to recording independently, while continuing to mix her originals--many focusing on issues of social relevance--with spot-on interpretations of standards.

One such standard on her breakthrough CD in 2000 was "The Very Thought of You." Marie sings it with much attention to detail, nuanced in her intonation, inflections, phrasing, and emotional message and impact, and finishing with a swooping Sarah Vaughan-ish descending melisma just before Mulgrew Miller's piano solo. Miller's accompaniment is all-embracing, and his ringingly lyrical solo possesses more than a little touch of grandeur, Marie returns with a more playful attitude, taking liberties with the melodic line that reveal a Betty Carter influence. All in all, in its subtlety, this remains one of Marie's best recorded performances of a standard tune.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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