LO MARIE – Le Reve

CD Reviews 02 Aug 2019

The album art and the art for the single releases is by Megan Bloesch

You can hear several of the single releases and purchase Le Reve here .

LO MARIE – Le Reve

(2019  Self-Release)

If there was ever any doubt that the Madison music scene oozes not only with talent but also with class, one need look no further than Lo Marie. Her tasteful blend of jazz and soul comes alive on Le Reve, a seven-song album that is nothing short of world-class.

One of the most impressive things about Lo Marie is her apparent ability to absorb her life experiences into her music. She had a fortunate musical and intellectual education at Vanderbilt in Nashville and it seems that every connection along the way has become an ingredient to her success. Her time in the Furious Bongos has lent complexity to her musical vocabulary; the construction and arrangements on Le Reve are sublime. One notable connection that has made a huge impact on the road that led to Le Reve is Conrad St. Clair, one of the finest fretless bass players to ever grace Madison and one of the best bassists in the country. Sadly, St. Clair has moved to the East Coast but thankfully maintains projects here. He’s the driving force behind the Bongos and his country-wide connections with them and the criminally under-rated Kicksville pay off in spades for Lo Marie on Le Reve.

The record positively glimmers with solid musical talent. St. Clair’s bass is phenomenal, his smooth style fits the material, his full tone anchoring the ensemble. Lou Caldarola is a top-flight drummer, able to handle the difficult Zappa material in the Furious Bongos with ease and having a blast doing it. He also played with Kicksville and plays drums on one track. The rest of the drums are ably handled by John Alvey. Nashville figures prominently throughout. Lo Marie continues to use Randy Poole’s recording facility the Poole Room, and the sonic clarity is stunning. Other studios were used, likely for individual contributions but St. Clair, who mixed the album, seamlessly brings it all together. Jason Webb provides texture with his tasteful keyboards; the Alva String Quintet adds remarkable depth with Alvey’s wife Melanie Joy Alvey providing the string arrangements and leading on violin. Guitar ace Chris Huntington (Crawdaddies, Kicksville) also appears.

Lo Marie steps into the role of producer on Le Reve and does so confidently. Things come together on the opening salvo, “All the Love,” strings adding gravitas, the bass snaking around the dense harmonic construct, Lo Marie’s sensuously suggestive vocals, and Webb’s soulful organ.

Huntington’s guitar shimmers on “Imperfect Goddess,” a showcase for Lo Marie as she flutters about the percolating rhythm with astonishing control. The keys and strings in combination with Scott Huff’s trumpet and processed flute sounds of Jovan Quallo make for a sweet brew on “African Daisy,” at once modern and classic.

Six of these seven songs were written by Lo Marie. Her involvement with the Steely Dan tribute ensemble Steely Dane shows up channeling a stylistic hipness. The intro to and turnarounds in “Sea Monster” sound positively Dan-ish, Huntington bending the notes in that certain way. The feel reflects Lo Marie’s involvement with salsa/soul fusion band Orquesta Salsoul del Mad. Then there is the title track, an absolute joy to listen to, the mind being pulled by a harmonic line that surprises, the submission to its lull is effortless. “Tangerine Ginger,” with Caldarola on drums, has more of the salsa feel, the tightness of the rhythms here are most impressive. The string-and-vocal arrangement of Don Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free,” a standard that was featured in Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X, is a fitting closer. Its gentle beauty and topical lyrics wind up the album with grace.

The rare Madison jazz recording, Le Reve now dominates the field and is a remarkable achievement for Lo Marie. Translated as The Dream, this project must be one come true for Lo Marie; to be in the company of such great players interpreting the music that originates in the heart, the soul, the life. There’s little more an artist asks for than this realization and Le Reve does it proud.

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About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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