News > Spoleto 2014 Review: Rene Marie Turned ‘Evil’

René Marie

Jazz singer and total bad ass René Marie returned for her third Spoleto Festival USA performance last night with a one-night only engagement for the Wells Fargo Jazz Series. It was the final performance of her spring tour, and Marie and her band left it all on the stage.

She’s only getting better, folks.
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The singer has a true mastery of her gift–her voice–plus incredible timing of both movement and sound, and a natural stage presence that can not be taught or faked. Marie’s voice becomes another instrument, weaving and undulating between the notes and solos of her band.
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The performance was fluid and inviting, at times inciting, and most definitely rooted in a ‘good girl who can be bad’ kind of vibe. Just listen to “I Wanna Be Evil,” “I’d Rather Be Burned as a Witch,” or “Ohh John.”
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The set list was pulled from her 10th and newest album, I Wanna Be Evil – With Love to Eartha Kitt, for a sensual, exciting evening, where she and the band filled every corner of the cavernous TD Arena, Spoleto’s substitute venue while the Gaillard Auditorium is under renovation. The entire I Wanna Be Evil album has a very sensual feeling overall. You could practically feel her purring or growling, even from the very way back of the arena, where we enjoyed a bird’s eye, center view of the stage.
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Marie’s band is made up of local jazz icon Quentin Baxter on drums, Kevin Bales on piano, and Elias Bailey on bass. They were joined by the horn section from the album, composed of Etienne Charles on trumpet, Adrian Cunningham on sax, clarinet, and flute, and the mind-blowing Wycliffe Gordon on trombone. Charles is no stranger to the Charleston jazz scene, having performed with the Charleston Jazz Orchestra’s Latin Night in 2012, and with Quentin Baxter and his band fairly regularly over the last few years. Gordon is a stellar trombone player who I had not had the privilege of hearing until last night; he possesses incredible control over his instrument. Marie is wise to surround herself with these bright talents, as they only help her to shine brighter.
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Marie’s bluesy, aggressive take on the Cole Porter classic “Let’s Do It” and her charismatic stage presence were the highlights for me. I highly encourage you to buy her new album, with the caveat that you see her perform live at your earliest opportunity, come hell or high water, because the album alone will never do justice to the energy, the power, the improvisation of a live show from these incredible artists.

Spoleto Festival continues through June 8, 2014. Visit for full listings of the upcoming performances.

words: Stacy Huggins

Posted on May 27, 2014 by admin.

Categories: Performing Arts, Review

Tags: Charleston Jazz Orchestra, Cole Porter, Eartha Kitt, Etienne Charles, I Wanna Be Evil, Jazz, Quentin Baxter, Rene Marie, Spoleto Festival Usa, Spoleto Review, Wells Fargo Jazz Series, Wyciffe Gordon

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