Rene Marie presents a standout set at Exit 0 Jazz Festival


Rene Marie released a new album, “Sound of Red,” on May 13.

Saturday was the day for instrumental fireworks at the Exit 0 Jazz Festival in Cape May. Guitarist Pat Metheny and bassist Ron Carter played a series of (mostly acoustic) duets, along with one solo showcase each, and guitarist John Scofield and saxophonist Joe Lovano dazzled in a quartet format that also featured Ben Street on bass and Matt Wilson on drums.

Other highlights for me, on that day, include a set by the veteran blues singer Frank Bey and, especially, a noontime performance by singer-songwriter René Marie that showcased songs from her upcoming album Sound of Red, due out May 13 on the Motema label.

It’s a collection of original songs, and has a deeply personal feel to it. “Lost,” she said, was inspired by her free-spirited sister, and “Certaldo” (that’s Certaldo, Italy) and the playful “Colorado River Song” by trips she took.

The highlight, for me, was “Go Home,” a breakup song about telling a married man that she can’t see him any more. I’m sure it’s very powerful on Sound of Red. But hearing it live, after René Marie shared memories of that relationship (and the wounds from it), it was devastating.

René Marie didn’t confine herself to Sound of Red, including, in her set, a deeply emotional tribute to Prince, who had died just two days previously (an a cappella “Nothing Compares 2 U”); as well as her anthemic “The South Is Mine” (from her 2003 album, Serene Renegade). But the Sound of Red material really stood out; I think this album could be a breakthrough for her, on many levels.

The Exit 0 festival — which takes place twice a year (in the spring and in the fall) and includes concert-like shows as well as more informal sets in Cape May restaurants and bars — has announced that the next one is scheduled for Nov. 11-13, and will feature the Wynton Marsalis Quintet (Marsalis brought his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to the festival last year) and Cécile McLorin Salvant. For information and updates, visit

Click here for my review of Lisa Fischer’s set on opening night of the festival, Friday.


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