The son of a West Coast jazzman, René listened to much jazz-funk and soul while growing up. His first direct musical experience came in 1995, when he formed Soulstice (with Andy Caldwell), a San Francisco band that blended programmed house with the live feel of acid jazz.
The group released an album on the Om label (Illusion), and René began writing songs for a solo project. He was then signed to the like-minded label Naked Music, which specializes in a fusion of jazz, funk, and house. For his Aquanote debut, 2002's The Pearl, René called on an array of musician contacts he'd made around San Francisco, as well as a half-dozen female vocalists.
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