Anais Reno
Chelsea Table and Stage
Feb 26, 2022

By Aron Bederson

The gifted Anais Reno, a graduate of the LaGuardia High School of The Performing Arts and current first year jazz student at SUNY Purchase, performed on Feb 26, at Chelsea Table and Stage , a new venue in the Fashion District . Already in her short but illustrious singing career, Reno has won many awards including First Place in the Mabel Mercer Foundation High School C ompetition, and in 2019, the Julie Wilson Award.

From the moment she took the stage with her trio, one could sense her ease and focus. In her opening number, Almost Like Being in Love (Lerner/Lowe), one was immediately struck by the richness of tone in Reno’s voice. She had a haunting, vocal quality way beyond her years, and a unique way of interpreting this well–known melody, finding unusual intervals and turns of phrase within it.

Reno was supported on stage by two of her SUNY j azz p rofessors, Pete Malinvera on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and fellow student Simon Kibas on drums. Renos was clearly connected to the trio and their collective mission of making music. The group worked seamlessly together, supporting Reno and each other when they had their individual moments to shine. Her mother, accomplished violinist Juliet Kurtzman joined them all in a beautiful violin solo in Take Love Easy.

Reno sang a number of songs from her debut album Lovesome Thing which features the songs of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Reno’s approach to these classics is relaxed and authentic. She doesn’t force anything. In Caravan, she blended so well with the trio in the opening scat section that one may have thought she was another instrument. And, i n the closing song of the night, I Ain’t Got Nothing But the Blues, Reno demonstrated a real feeling for the blues, start ing the song acapella, finding exciting “bluesy” intervals and, displaying her impressive vocal range, from her smokey low notes to her clarion high notes. It is extraordinary that this very young woman is able to take such a well know jazz standard that has been sung by all of the jazz greats and make it her own.

Songs not included on the album demonstrated her excellent ear for languages, and facility with a variety of jazz standards. In Les Feuilles Mortes (Kosma/ Prevert) She moved easily from French to English, and sounded completely natural in the Bossa Nova standard sung in Portuguese, Chega de Saudade (Jobim).

As Reno has expressed in interviews, she isn’t onstage to be noticed, which is why she feels most herself in the world of jazz. It is “the human experience set to sound.” Her love of the genre is apparent. The quality of Reno’s voice is so unique it must be heard. It is rich, sensual and unforced. We all can look forward to hearing much more from Reno and collaborators.

Chelsea Table and Stage is an exciting new venue located in the Hilton Fashion District Hotel. With a grand theatrical staircase and draped walls leading down to the stage area. T he performance room is big with dramatically high ceilings and tables for dining and viewing the show on the main floor. There are also raised levels with tables on each side which adds to the spaciousness, and the excitement of live performance. The colored lighting and modern décor adds to the elegance of the room.

After descending the grand staircase, I was immediately greeted by “Frank” the director of operations who makes sure patrons are taken care of . The menu is light fare and includes mixed nuts, Lemongrass Chicken Sausage, Crispy Baby Artichokes, Marinated Baby Beets, Soy-Ginger Chicken, Steak Tartare and more. Desserts included Fig Cheesecake, a flourless Chocolate Torte and a Cheese Board. The French Onion Soup and Truffle Mac and Cheese were both delicious, rich and cheesy!

Whether attending a show, or out for an evening dinner, Chelsea Table and Stage is sure to become a “Hotspot” destination. Reserve now while seats are still available.