Rene Marie Quartet: Live at Appel Farm in Elmer, NJ
Report and photos from concert by the singular jazz singer on November 19, 2011
As part of the Fall Music Series at Appel Farm Arts & Music Center, jazz singer and songwriter Rene Marie and trio are back after appearing here five years ago, bringing their Black Lace Freudian Slip Tour—an evening of music that incorporated elements of soul, blues, gospel and Americana. Her trio includes pianist Kevin Bales, bassist Kevin Hamilton, and drumming virtuoso Quentin Baxter.
The audience was treated to a pre-show wine tasting sponsored Auburn Vineyards. During the pre-show conversation, the audience, including students attending the Appel performing arts school, was very enthusiastic and asked many questions, which Marie graciously responded to. Marie shared with the audience that the very first song she sang completely was “A House is Not a Home” at the age of 10. She talked about how songs speak to her and that she doesn’t edit much of her writing. When asked why at age 40 she decided to become a professional singer, Marie responded that she was always pursuing her career performing at weddings, or at friends' homes.
Marie opened the set with the title track from her eighth album, Black Lace Freudian Slip. The title track is an autobiographical statement about her approach to music that includes lyrics right out of Sigmund Freud: "I drink imported wine right out of the bottle." Her improvisation was wickedly gorgeous, while Kevin Bale cooked up some complementary lines on the piano, drummer Quentin Baxter stirred up the snare head with brushes, and bassist Kevin Hamilton locked in the tempo.
Other tunes included “Rufast Daliarg,” described as nonsensical words and verses written for her son when he asked for some advice, and “Thanks But I Don’t Dance; written by Patti McKenny. Marie’s haunting slide between registers, her awareness of tone and timbre, made the music sound both personal and highly persuasive.
Emotions were heightened when Marie made a compelling dedication to the homeless during “This Is Not a Protest Song.” The song pleads for tolerance—and a helping hand—toward the homeless brother, an unwed mother and an abused wife.
From her last album Voices of My Beautiful Country, Marie and trio performed her anthem suite—“America the Beautiful," "Drum Battle," "Piano Blues," "My Country ’Tis of Thee/Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing/Star-Spangled Banner.” Through these songs, Rene professes the love she has for her country and an understanding of the African-American people. The trio did their magic as Marie belted out the melody. The audience was moved to total silence.
Additional photos at Smugmug.com.