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  September 2008
"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" Althea René
Interview by Baldwin "Smitty" Smith

althea reneJazz Monthly:   Well, I am just totally ecstatic to welcome back to one of my favorite artists in the world.  An amazing jazz flautist. She’s about to release her incredible new CD.  You know her from Flute Talk, Chocolate Rush, In the Moment, and this great new CD is called No Restrictions, and let me tell you, it is appropriately titled.  It is full of some fantastic tracks, great grooves, some vein poppin’ solos.  I mean, it is the CD that I am seriously diggin’ right now.  And let me tell you about this artist.  She has a rarified air that you can wear and it is very fashionable and she can pump your world!  With an unmatched distinctive groove, her live shows are truly something special. When she takes the stage her vibe quickly becomes airborne and voluminously fills the room. Please welcome the magnificent Red Cat Music Group recording artist Althea Rene.  Hey, Althea, how ya doin’?

Althea Rene (AR):  I am on fire and fantastic right now.  (Both laugh.)

Jazz Monthly:  I love that.  Wow!  And rightly so when I listened to this new record.  Man, it is unbelievable! 

AR:  Thank you.

Jazz Monthly: Yes, it is a fantastic project and you’ve got some—just the top people in the business on this great CD.  Wow, I mean, the producers.  How can you go wrong with Rex Rideout, Michael Broening, Chance Howard…and the musicians…Mel Brown, Candy Dulfer, and the great Rhonda Smith

AR:  Oh yeah.

Jazz Monthly:  Yes, this is just a great project and then there’s the great Kendall Duffie.  I mean, you’ve got some fantastic people and everyone really brought their A- game to this project.

AR:  Yeah, I think working with a lot of the producers, they were excited about working with a new instrument, the flute, because a lot of the material today is sax driven, guitar driven, and so a lot of the producers I worked with were very pleased and I was very excited to work with them as well on something that was just new and fresh.

Jazz Monthly:  Yes, and speaking of that, your presence on stage at live performances is just incredible too.  I don’t want to miss that because I get so much feedback about your incredible stage presence.  Someone used the phrase “she has an intense allure” and that made me sit back and really think about what you’ve done in the past couple of years and in particular, this past year you’ve done some fantastic things.  You’ve played at some really nice large festivals, you were invited to the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, just some wonderful things that have just come out of this last year for you.

AR:  Yes, it was just an amazing experience to perform there with the great Candy Dulfer, just unforgettable. Yeah, yeah, it’s been really, really exciting and I think it was very inspiring for me in recording this CD because it took me to different—with each producer, it took me to a different part of the states and I’ve had a chance to really experience so many different things and it’s just been great.  It’s just been a growing—I’ve been growing as an artist, I’ve been growing spiritually, and it’s just been fantastic, so I’m really fired up and have so many people thank.

Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, well, I’ve detected something in listening to your projects over the years and then listening to this one, it’s just got that high definition vibe.  It has such a confidence, just this wonderful vibrato and bravura that says “Hey, I am here, I have no restrictions, I’m feeling it and ready to do it,” you know?  It’s just a great project.

AR:  Thank you, thank you so much.  I think in today’s music it’s just gotten to a point where you try to please everybody and a lot of times that ends up getting in the way of you really, really being able to be you.  And so part of No Restrictions is not just the title; it’s a way of life, it’s a new way of looking at life, and to not be restricted means to just do what makes you happy musically and don’t worry about whether it’s good for radio or good for this or good for that or whether this person likes it or not.  Do it for you, and when you do that, then if you’re pleased, you definitely are gonna be able to please other people.

Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, and I think that you really nailed it there because when you really speak from your heart, there’s just this connection with a great audience of people, and I think it’s a common ground that we have to get into to really appreciate and I think you’ve done that because the feedback that I hear all the time….I know when you’ve been somewhere to do a show because I get e-mail like you wouldn’t believe saying “Oh, I just really love her.”  I’ve gotten e-mail from diehard rock fans that say “Now I’m her greatest new fan,” you know?  So it’s unbelievable, that’s a really strong thing when you really reach down and say “Here’s who I am and here’s what I’m about” and people automatically just connect with that.

AR:  Oh yeah, yeah, and a lot of the people that I worked with on this project also I believe that they share that same philosophy and I believe that that’s why it really came off so special.

Jazz Monthly: Yes indeed.  And I know you love performing live.  Talk to me about what that does for your musicianship, for you personally.  Talk about what that means for you to get out there and play live in front of audiences.

AR:  Well, I just love the feeling.  It makes me feel free.  When I’m on that stage and it’s not about trying to be perfect, it’s about being free and expressing yourself, and it is hard to explain sometimes when you just sit and think about really what it means because generally it takes so much to get to the show and there’s a lotta things that are involved in putting a show together that outside of the creativity of what you actually do for those few minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, that you’re on stage that a lotta times you forget.  You’ve gotta fly there and maybe drive somewhere else and you’ve got a lotta people around you, but when you hit that stage and I get that feeling when the music hits, it’s just something that goes through me that says nothing matters but the music and there’s just no feeling better than that, and I guess that’s my addiction.  (Both laugh.)

Jazz Monthly:  Well, it’s a great addiction, and I think the fans really share that as well because they have to drive or fly and get to the show, and I really think that they feel the same way you do.  When the music starts, that now they’re there for what they’ve come for, to hear you, to hear the band, and to really get into the music and have a great time, so it’s a really win-win thing for everybody when you think about it.

AR:  Oh yeah, it’s about that audience, it’s about tapping in, and usually after going through all of that they just wanna have fun, they wanna be entertained, so it’s kind of a marriage of sorts, you hope, between you and your audience that when you go out there that they connect with what you have to say in your music and it’s just been a positive thing for me every time.  Every time I enjoy it, I never get tired of it, and I just hope to be able to continue and have larger audiences.

Jazz Monthly: Yes, and I think it’s interesting that you said that because when I listen to people talk after a show or during a show, I get these comments like “Wow, I’ve never heard her play before” and “She’s great” or “She’s awesome,” and “I didn’t know that anyone could do that with a flute.”  (Both laugh.)  That one I hear a lot.

AR:  Okay.

Jazz Monthly:  And it’s always “We wanna follow her, we wanna hear what else she’s doing and what’s up,” and I know you have a fan club site now that people can go to on My Space and see what you’re doing and all of those great things, which is very cool.

AR:  Oh yeah, and we really are planning to up the ante on that so that we can include having more live performances and live tracks as well as having the samples from my music.  I think it’s important for people to be able to share what you do live and any giveaways and things like that I just really wanna be able to engage people and, yeah, just expand.

Jazz Monthly:  Yeah, absolutely.  Well, it’s interesting that someone said to me just recently that your music doesn’t knock you off your feet.  It actually knocks them on their feet.  It makes them wanna dance and groove.  (Both laugh.)  So I thought that was a cool thing when you’ve got music that makes people wanna move and dance, then they’re really feeling it and they’re in it, you know?

AR:  Mm-hmm, yeah.


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