On Wednesday May 14, vocalist/composer Rene Marie hits the stage and one best be ready. Ms. Marie, a native of Virginia, is touring in support of her new Motema release, "I Wanna Be Evil: With Love to Eartha Kitt". The CD, issued late in 2013, features the vocalist, her splendid trio (pianist Kevin Bales, bassist Elias Bailey and drummer/percussionist Quentin Baxter) plus guests Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Adrian Cunningham (tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute) and Etienne Charles (trumpet, percussion, horn arrangements) on a sultry, sexy, stimulating, quite enjoyable journey through 9 songs associated with the delightful Ms. Kitt (1927-2008). Rene Marie's other releases on Motema - "Black Lace Freudian Slip" and "Voice of My Beautiful Country" - both came out in 2011, pushing the envelope in the style that her fans have gotten used to. She's not afraid to speak her mind through her music; the "Kitt" CD contains the original piece, "Weekend", that tells of a woman in an abusive relationship and a sexual encounter that could be viewed as rape.
Side Door attendees not only get to see Rene Marie and her Trio but Etienne Charles will be joining in on the gig. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the music starts at 8:30. Tickets are still available so call 860-434-0886 or go to thesidedoorjazz.com.
www.sachalvasandani.com to learn more about the fine young singer.
New Haven-based composer Nate Trier while the Guitar Trio E will play play music from its new CD, "Goodbye Watson." The music commences at 9 p.m. For more information, go to www.cafenine.com or call 203-789-8281.
The Russ Nolan Quartet will play 2 sets - 8:30 and 10 p.m. - for ticket information go to firehouse12.com or call 203-785-0468. To learn more about Mr. Nolan and his music, go to www.russnolan.com.
This project may remind some listeners of the solo piano series Concord Jazz created at Maybeck Recital Hall. The piano sound is impeccable, very live and full - Valera recorded his music on 2 separate dates in November 2013 in the Arlan Harris Piano Salon. This is wonderful music to lose one's self in. The music flows easily, nothing feels forced and the pieces are filled with long stretches of melodic invention. There may be thousands of recordings of Monk's "Ask Me Now" but few as exciting as Valera's rhythmical romp through the melody and rhythms. The original ballad, "Hope", has moments where the phrases take one's breath away with the emotional content. "Water" has lines that would not be out of place in a Broadway musical, a poetic piano melody that could have words but conveys its message with elegance.
"Self Portrait" is dazzling without overwhelming the senses, a confident. mature, statement from its creator. I have played this recording all the way through on numerous occasions and continue to find moments that surprise or challenge me. Manuel Valera has technique galore but does not fall back on cliches or speedy riffs that might impress one but fall flat on repeated listenings. This music, this hour of pure joy, comes from a pianist who is self-assured, confident, masterful and clearly in his prime. For more information, go to www.manuelvalera.com.