The American singer Rene Marie was the guest of the 7th concert in the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which is having this year one of the best seasons I can remember. The increase in the number of concerts did not lead to a dilution in quality, quite the opposite, and led on the other side for more diversity and more genres and more new and surprising artists to be brought on stage for the audiences in Israel. This is great.


Rene Marie is born in Virginia and the story of her life is quite interesting. She married young in a deep religious family belonging to the Jehova’s Wittnesses Christian denomination, and had little time to sing while she was raising he children. It was only after turning 40 that her elder son convinced her to take upon a singing career, but this cost her the marriage. Success was however almost immediate, as she got national and international recognition, awards and opportunities to perform at the some of the greatest festivals of jazz worldwide.

(video source ReneMarieGalax)

Rene Marie’s style and repertoire focuses on classical jazz, with elements of blues, soul, gospel, musicals and pop music. It’s not a singer that you would appreciate enough if you just listened to her CDs, you need to see her on stage. She has stamina and a very special human touch combined with a direct approach in talking to the audiences and singing for them. You feel that singing did not come easier for her, she may not be the most naturally gifted vocalist you met, but she has something deep inside that she wants to share and she does it in a vibrant manner.

(video source richmondjazzsociety)

The Israeli musicians who played with Rene Marie last Friday succeeded to form a coherent ensemble which resonated and amplified the American singer’s music. Koby Solomon is a balanced and professional clarinetist and saxophonist whose musical experience is felt and appreciated as soon as you hear him. Alon Tayar is a young pianist of talent that I wished would have dared more and I am sure that he will do it soon with excellent results. Rene Marie loves duet-ing with bass players and this allowed Assaf Hakhimi the opportunity to prove his skills. Shy Zalman was as always in a category of himself.

signing autographs on CDs after the concert

I bought a CD of her named Experiment in Truth which is a good introduction to her music. One can find here ‘Vertigo’ one of her best and well known songs, the pop-sounding and socially engaged ‘This is (not) a Protest Song’ and ‘O Nina’ – a tribute to Nina Simone, one of the inspiring figures for her career. However, trying to find the opportunity to listen to Rene Marie life is the best way to know her and her art.