Flying Cat Music is proud to present Jean Rohe in concert in Phoenicia on Sunday, August 17, at the Empire State Railway Museum located at 70 Lower High Street. The show begins promptly at 7:30 p.m. with the door opening at 7:00. Admission is $15 or $13 with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-688-9453.
Her shows have excited audiences in venues from the legendary New York City jazz club Birdland to Havana’s Teatro Nacional, but she’s just as comfortable presenting her music at a formal showcase for the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance. Jean will be accompanied at this concert by her long-time musical collaborator and band mate Liam Robinson, who also produced her recent highly acclaimed CD Jean Rohe and the End of the World Show, which the New York Daily News calls “masterful.”
It’s not easy to find descriptive terms to categorize Jean Rohe’s music, and that’s not for a lack of trying. John Schaefer, host of Soundcheck at WNYC, says: “Jean Rohe inhabits a space where jazz, folk, and world music meet.” The New York Times calls Jean, “A sure-footed young singer-songwriter mixing aesthetic approaches from jazz, folk and chamber music.” Accousticmusic.com goes metaphoric instead writing, “Rohe’s creativity descends from the clouds to meet what rises up from the earth, locking in heart and mind.”
She masters sonic shifts across established genre borders with the ease of a practiced magician, moving from traditional folk to Brazilian heat, from classical to jazz, with roots drawing deeply from and mixing sources as diverse as Celtic and Afro-Peruvian traditions. All the while, “Rohe’s lovely, expressive voice makes anything she sings stunning,” in the words of the Daily Freeman.
There really isn’t another artist to compare Jean Rohe closely with. When reviewers try, most often they mention Joni Mitchell, perhaps because each emerged from an acoustic scene with thoughtful songs and captivating clear voices, or possibly because there really isn’t anyone to compare Joni with either. What they each share in common, aside from an excess of talent, is a fiercely restive musical and intellectual spirit far too adventurous to simply be called folk, but with too populist a focus to describe another way.
John Platt, of WFUV New York, put a finger on Rohe’s unique appeal when he said, “There are plenty of talented artists out there, but what sets Jean Rohe apart are the suppleness of her voice, the integrity of her vision, and the grace she shows in her wide-ranging journeys across the musical landscape.”
For a woman who only just turned thirty, Jean Rohe has a remarkable list of accomplishments. At about age twenty she co-wrote and performed the music for the 2004 feature film “Noise” starring Ally Sheedy and Trish Goff. In 2006 Jean sang as a finalist in the prestigious Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition, an international juried contest open to professional jazz singers under the age of 35 that is held in Switzerland at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the second largest annual jazz festival in the world. Jean was awarded second prize by a judging panel presided over by multiple Grammy award winning vocalist Al Jarreau, while also taking home the Audience Favorite award in the same competition.
Rohe’s vibrant creativity has also been acknowledged and rewarded through her reception of a highly coveted MacDowell Fellowship. Prior recipients of that honor include composer Aaron Copland and novelist Alice Walker and, more recently, composer Meredith Monk and Pulitzer Prize winners playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and novelist Michael Chabon. Currently, Jean has songs that are nominees in two categories for Vox Pop awards by the Independent Music Awards. She has already won the 2014 Independent Music Awards Judges’ Award (judges included Suzanne Vega, Laurie Anderson, Joshua Redman, Judy Collins, Arturo Sandoval, and Anne and Nancy Wilson of “Heart” among others) in the category “Best Story Song” for her piece “Umbrella.” Umbrella is featured on Rohe’s current CD and exemplifies her often hypnotic use of rhythm as she channels the lives of street vendors in Brazil, a nation she has spent time in and has been deeply influenced by, in an exhilarating and inspired reworking of the epic of Noah’s Ark,
The core thread that animates Jean Rohe’s work, though, lies as much in her character as in her musicianship. Respected roots music publication No Depression nailed it when they wrote, “Not only does she make astoundingly beautiful music but she is thoughtful, reflective, and courageous.” Rohe was courageous enough, back in 2006, to withstand a national media firestorm of conservative criticism after, while representing the graduating student body of the New School for Social Research, she rebutted sections of John McCain’s about to be delivered Commencement address point by point regarding the war in Iraq. Jean did so by thoughtfully and passionately responding to an advance copy of the Senator’s planned comments during her own time at the podium.
Jean Rohe has the courage both to speak out against wrongs she sees and to celebrate the transcendent in humanity through music that transports us to a better place. You could say she’s a dreamer. We hope Sunday you’ll join us in welcoming Jean Rohe to Phoenicia