|Rene Marie. London, July 2014
Photo Credit Melody McLaren. All Rights Reserved
Rene Marie and the Bruce Barth Trio
(Pizza Express Dean Street. 26th July 2014. First night of five. Review by Nicky Schrire)
Rene Marie – like Gregory Porter – is a fantastic example of a new wave of vocalists drawing on their wisdom and maturity to make a musical statement that fresh-faced ingénues can only aspire to. At fifty-eight years young, the first night of her five-night run at Soho’s Pizza Express Jazz Club showcased her biting wit, unabashed femininity and vocal prowess with support from the perennially classy pianist Bruce Barth, drummer Stephen Keogh and bassist Mark Hodgson. These dates come near the end of the group’s European tour during which the band has headlined at the prestigious San Sebastian Jazz Festival in Spain, .
Performing repertoire from her latest album I Wanna Be Evil: With Love to Eartha Kitt (Motema – REVIEWED HERE),as well as previously recorded material (Black Lace Freudian Slip a particularly delicious, bluesy highlight), Marie’s performance was beautifully audacious (including shimmying, growling, clicking and percussive vocal effects) yet hugely inclusive, as she invited the audience to sing along at various junctures.
Expressive, with a deep connection to the lyrical content of the songs she navigated, whether in French (C’est Si Bon) or English (Cole Porter’s Let’s Fall In Love and My Heart Belongs to Daddy), Marie displayed an innate ability to marry intelligence, humour and musical authenticity while giving her fellow musicians ample room to be heard and appreciated. New York pianist Bruce Barth was particularly dazzling with his musical, tasteful and dexterous playing.
Opening her second set with an entrancing a cappella medley of When You’re Smiling, Smile and Make Someone Happy, it was clear that Marie was not just smiling widely, but also making her audience very happy indeed.
Supported by the Global Music Foundation. Rene Marie and the Bruce Barth Trio perform for four more nights at Pizza Express (until Wednesday 30th July) before ending their tour performing in Tuscany, Italy.