In Ilene’s words…
The unique sound of my music comes from the poetry of life and
experience. It has developed organically, over decades, from the
prairies of the 90s midwestern USA to the Mediterranean sea, to the
pastures and castles of Pays de la Loire.
In every note, you’ll hear the atmosphere and colors of these spaces
transcending borders and eras.
I have named my genre “International Avant-Garde Jazz-Folk.” It is
acoustic, and timeless.
I am a truly international artist; born in the USA, I have lived most of my
adult life in France, and am now back in the USA (Austin TX).
Therein lies the story of my album “Reasons,” and my upcoming album,
On both sides of my family, music goes back for generations. You could say it’s in my blood.
My father jokes that I sang rather than cried, as a baby. My first instrument was piano, at age 6, and my first compositions came not long afterwards. As a teenager, I began to perform at weddings, funerals, my place of worship, and occasionally singing in restaurants.
It was all for fun, at the time. I became a professional almost by accident… While volunteering on the committee of a cultural festival in the early 2000s, I was jokingly recruited to fill in for another singer.
“Ilene, can you sing?” Actually, yes, I can, and thanks for asking. After that first performance of classic Americana for the Twin Cities Festival in Montpellier, France, I was motivated to assemble a group and start performing some of my own songs. Two of those early examples (Stalker and Invisible) are on my upcoming album, Saint Mars.
But the joys of performing came at a steep price. As a young mother, I had to make choices. I turned down a doctoral program, and stopped teaching. The father of my children became jealous over the late practice and concert hours, and the general level of attention I was getting. This phase inspired my first album, Reasons.
After a long and painful separation and divorce, I found healing in the woods of the Sarthe. Reasons was created in a little old house, with an outbuilding that became my studio. The CD was released a month before the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, which means I was only able to deliver a handful of public performances before my 2020 tour was cancelled. But those imperfect times became the perfect time to work on my next album, named for our village, Saint Mars. From summer 2020-summer 2021 we wrote, practiced and recorded Saint Mars, in honor of the many stories we told while waiting out the pandemic in our wildflower garden, entertained by the flora and fauna, a glass of wine in hand and a song in the breeze.
Musicians on Saint Mars
Parisian accordionist and composer Maxime Perrin’s individualistic style has evolved naturally from years of experience in a wide variety of genres: orchestrated jazz, gypsy folk, rock and urban. A highly polyvalent musician, Maxime regularly accompanies theater, improv and one-man shows, when not on the road with his own music.
Parisian world jazz music guitarist and recording artist, he has travelled to every continent with his compositions. As a side man, he has worked with top world music artists like Richard Bona, Ibrahim Maalouf and Manu Codjia
Parisian guest artist on bass clarinet; plays in classical and jazz ensembles in France (including a duo with the accordionist on this album, Maxime Perrin)
On trumpet, flugelhorn and serpent. Recording artist from Le Mans, recorded trumpet, flugelhorn and serpent on Elvis Costello’s album “Hey Clockface” (2020)
Thierry De Clemensat
Producer, writer, singer, and artistic director since the late 1970s, in Paris, Brussels, and beyond.
Musicians on Reasons
(see biography under Saint Mars)… Also on French horn
Music professor at the conservatory in Auxerre (Burgundy, France), he is a composer and recording artist, working with several jazz and blues groups, and has played at festivals across France.
Chief collaborator of Olivier Mugot, he has worked with well-known French blues artists as well, such as Nina Van Horn.
Voted “rising star” of the baritone sax this year and for the last few years in Downbeat magazine. She has released several albums on the prestigious German jazz label “Act” and is now with Crystal Records in France.
She has played at all the most important jazz festivals in France (like Jazz in
Vienne, Jazz in Marciac, etc) and at festivals across Europe. Last year, she was named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Cultural Minister, along
with the other members of the Rhoda Scott’s (Ray Charles’ former keyboardist)
Lady All-Stars band.
Her world-music groove comes from having spent several years living on Reunion Island, and recording her first (independent) album with local musicians there.