Jazz Vocalist and Grammy Nominee René Marie to Open Monty Alexander Jazz Festival on Labor Day Weekend
Contact: Don Buxton 410 819-0380
or Amy Steward 410 829-0436
The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival will celebrate its sixth anniversary at the intimate Avalon Theatre in Easton, MD on Labor Day weekend from September 3 – 6, 2015. The extraordinary energy and virtuosity of Artistic Director Monty Alexander have vaulted the Festival into a four-day event showcasing new talent, as well as jazz greats. An artist new to the stage at the Avalon to be featured at this year’s Festival is the incomparable jazz vocalist and Grammy nominee René Marie.
Marie opens this year’s Monty Alexander Jazz Festival at the Avalon Theatre with her Quintet on Friday evening, September 4 at 8:00 p.m. With her latest album, “I Wanna Be Evil (With Love to Eartha Kitt),” nominated for the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocalist, René Marie creates a fresh and evocative perspective on Kitt’s music.
A native and resident of Virginia, Marie didn’t begin singing professionally until the age of 42. While her influences are wide ranging: Betty Carter, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson to name a few, her interpretation of these styles is uniquely her own. She blends jazz with blues, with soul, with folk, with rock, with gospel and with the deeply ingrained impressions of her own life.
René Marie sings her truth. One of the most moving of her own works is “This is Not a Protest Song.” Feeling a need to be involved in something greater than herself, Ms. Marie reached within her own experience, and in this intensely autobiographical number sings of homelessness and the fine line that separates us from people on the street. She asks us not to look past these people, but to take part in a solution. Proceeds from the sale of this recording are donated to programs to help the homeless.
“It is important to stand behind what you do as an artist,” says Marie. With just such simplicity, grace, clarity and strength, her music and her message can change hearts and minds.
In addition to René Marie, this year’s Festival will feature New York-based tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, who will lead Saturday afternoon’s concert at 2 p.m. Monty Alexander and Friends take the stage on Saturday night at 8 p.m. Monty’s eclectic musical offerings will include reflections on his time with Frank Sinatra at the legendary Jilly’s Club in New York City. Sunday’s jazz and gospel concert at 2 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre will feature jazz vocalist Alicia Olatuja, whose solo with The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic” reached millions of viewers at President Obama’s 2013 Inaugural. Olatuja’s ensemble will include bassist Christian McBride, a three time Grammy winner.
Renowned Baltimore classical and jazz pianist, Jermaine Gardner, will open Sunday’s concert. Gardner, who also happens to be blind and living a creative life with Asperger’s Syndrome, performed with singer Stevie Wonder when he was only three years old and the singer presented him with a Stevie Wonder studio keyboard. He has performed at the White House and has appeared on numerous television shows.
A Festival tradition will continue this year on Saturday morning with a free New Orleans jazz concert at 11:00 a.m. in Thompson Park by The Conservatory Classic Jazz Band. The band will then lead a second line parade to the Tidewater Inn where a jazz brunch at 11:30 a.m. will precede the afternoon showcase.
A returning favorite vocalist, Caterina Zapponi, will open the Festival in an intimate setting on Thursday night with an All-Star ensemble, including Yotam Silverstein, Lorin Cohen, and Chuck Redd at the Academy Art Museum. This concert will not be a part of the Festival Pass and the number of seats available will be limited.
This year’s lineup of world class artists makes The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival an Eastern Shore destination for Labor Day weekend. The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, presented by Jazz on the Chesapeake, is a program of Chesapeake Chamber Music. For further information on the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, visit ChesapeakeJazz.org.
Caption: The incomparable jazz vocalist and Grammy nominee René Marie opens this year’s Monty Alexander Jazz Festival at the Avalon Theatre on Labor Day Weekend with her Quintet on Friday evening, September 4 at 8:00 p.m.
Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Chamber Music