Project O: Now As Then (2003)
Without denigrating trumpeter Ingrid Jensen's efforts in any way, it's organist Gary Versace's playing that makes all the difference on this date. If his work has any echoes at all, then they're of Larry Young, as opposed to Jimmy Smith, and in this respect, such is the deftness of his touch, Versace shares his approach to his instrument with the likes of such contemporaries as Dan Wall and Sam Yahel, both of whom have shown a similar depth of harmonic sophistication in their work.
The fact that this is Jensen's best-realised disc to date also lends the music allure. Apparently she once had some tuition from Art Farmer, and this is most obvious in what can only be described as her considered approach and her gift for the lyrical. In common with Farmer she sure-footedly never plays a surplus note, and neither does she lay technique for the sake of technique on the hapless listener.
Guests Seamus Blake, Jensen's sister Christine, and Steve Wilson do exactly what guests should do: they add to the music and don't detract from it, at the same time as they present their own musical identities in ways that haven't always been obvious on record. Nowhere is this better exemplified than on "R Hour," where Wilson shows that there's far less Cannonball Adderley in his work than there used to be, and Jensen turns in the kind of understated performance which just might be a darn sight more difficult than running through a display of technical trickery. The fact that she does so with such aplomb is testament enough to maturing musicianship. Similarly, drummer Wikan pulls off the trick of playing a backbeat in an understated way on "Gloria," where again nothing in general is overstated or subject to empty technical displays.
Overall, if music has a time and place then this is music for a relaxing Saturday afternoon at home, perhaps over a glass or four of something agreeable in the company of a partner. It's urbane without being bland and, most importantly, repeated listening reveals only further layers of meaning and nuance. Though such a feat sounds straightforward enough on paper, the fact that it's so rarely acheived suggests otherwise.
Track Listing: 1. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes 2. R Hour 3. Now As Then 4. Periwinkle 5. Gloria 6. Silver Prelude/Silver Twilight 7. Tony's Town 8. Dilemma
Personnel: Ingrid Jensen, Trumpet; Gary Versace, Organ; Jon Wikan, Drums. Guests: Steve Wilson, Alto Sax on 1 and 4, Alto Flute on 6; Seamus Blake, Tenor Sax on 2, 3, 5 and 7; Christine Jensen, Alto Sax on 1 and 8, Soprano Sax on 7