First Listen: Althea Rene discovers "Life On Mars"

(July 5, 2019) While the flute has played a valuable role in several avenues of music including classical, Irish and traditional jazz, this soothing yet dynamic instrument is not as strongly connected to the jazz fusion arenas.  In particular, traditional musicians Bobbi Humphrey, Hubert Laws and Herbie Mann, elevated the flute’s musical presence by crossing over into the funkier side of jazz.  For the past two decades, Detroit, Michigan native, Althea Rene has been quietly carrying the contemporary jazz torch.  Though she proudly declares herself as a soul floutist, her incredible artistry fits comfortably in Latin, rock, funk or anywhere her flute mastery flourishes. 

(July 5, 2019) While the flute has played a valuable role in several avenues of music including classical, Irish and traditional jazz, this soothing yet dynamic instrument is not as strongly connected to the jazz fusion arenas.  In particular, traditional musicians Bobbi Humphrey, Hubert Laws and Herbie Mann, elevated the flute’s musical presence by crossing over into the funkier side of jazz.  For the past two decades, Detroit, Michigan native, Althea Rene has been quietly carrying the contemporary jazz torch.  Though she proudly declares herself as a soul floutist, her incredible artistry fits comfortably in Latin, rock, funk or anywhere her flute mastery flourishes. 

On the latest release, Flawsome, Rene surrounds herself with top-notch talent such as Euge Groove, Jeanette Harris, Chris ‘Big Dog’ Davis and a backing vocal turn from Maysa.  But Rene’s talent is never overlooked, equipped with a full arsenal mixing original material and covers of Michael Jackson, Frankie Beverly & Maze - and yes – Philly International iconic keyboardist Dexter Wansel.  In our latest First Listen, Rene reaches back to a rare funk gem entitled “Life on Mars,” the title track from Wansel’s most successful solo album.  This re-interpretation showcases Rene’s mind-blowing flute flexing rock star improvisations and a jubilant solo by trumpeter Dwight Adam. All in all, “Life on Mars” boosts the funk on every level, much like Wansel’s original take, thanks to Rene’s heart, mind and soulful flute to which Humphrey and other fellow floutists would give a hearty thumbs.         

By Peggy Oliver

Althea Rene - "Life On Mars"

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