René Marie: Music of Eartha Kitt

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René Marie

Music of Eartha Kitt

Joe Henderson Lab, SFJAZZ, San Francisco, CA, March 20, 2015

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Rene-Marie-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212René Marie and Eartha Kitt have much in common, both being extremely sensuous, socially progressive and highly idiosyncratic vocalists. Marie’s set opened with three selections from her Grammy-nominated tribute to Kitt, I Wanna Be Evil (With Love to Eartha Kitt): an epic “C’est si bon,” replete with Ella-like scat, the original French lyrics and flowing instrumental solos. A most original version of Cole Porter’s “list” song “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” displays Marie’s affection and gentle, caring way with the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” another Porter gem, is pure jazz magic buoyed by the sensational rhythms provided by ace percussionist Quentin Baxter and some beautiful bowed bass by Elias Bailey.

Marie calls the tune a perfect match of composer (Porter) to vocalist (Kitt), but I call it this way—a great song being owned by an equally matched stylist.
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Marie sings with her heart and mind, often adding vocal percussion and vocalese over a verse. The rest of her set was dedicated to music from her upcoming CD.

An original song titled “Lost,” about a woman in turmoil, and an emotional teaching to her son, “Stronger Than You Think You Are,” show a fine songwriter, one smart enough to combine her strong voice with the tight fabric of great jazz arrangements.

“Blessings,” a loving tribute to her late brother, is both poignant and optimistic.
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René Marie is the complete jazz package—believable, funny, sassy, technically astute and authentic.

Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.