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Artemis at Finney Chapel

Artemis at Finney Chapel

Courtesy C. Andrew Hovan


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Finney Chapel
Artist Recital Series
Oberlin, OH
March 13, 2024

Much like society in general, women in the jazz arena have historically had a hard road to travel in a space that is clearly dominated by males. In recent years, the pendulum has thankfully shifted towards acknowledging the talents of many female artists contributing significantly to the jazz cannon. Somewhat of a rarity, Artemis is a true super group comprised wholly of female jazz artists. Pianist Renee Rosnes first assembled the ensemble of peers for a European festival tour several years ago. After Blue Note president Don Was heard the group, he subsequently offered them a recording contract. Their second release, In Real Time was released last year and solidified their reputation as an up and coming phenomenon.

Having spent some time working with students in the jazz program at Oberlin Conservatory, the group would wrap up a brief residency with a performance at Finney Chapel. Historically known as the venue of a historic 1953 concert by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the multi-use space has been home to many memorable concerts during the past several decades, although the jazz offerings have been sparse as of late. Artemis would bring out a healthy-sized audience that seemed totally in-tune with a program that blended originals from both albums along with some jazz chestnuts.

By the second number, "Lights Away From Home," the group had locked into the piece's medium groove while balancing their dynamics perfectly. That's not an easy task to do in a space where the sound often ricochets from hard surface to hard surface. A lovely tone poem, "Balance of Time" featured the rich harmonies of Renee Rosnes on piano, with Ingrid Jensen's muted trumpet providing complementary colors. As the piece achieved its placid conclusion, drummer Allison Miller matched the ending note by scraping her stick along the length of her ride cymbal.

Tapping into the traditional lexicon, the ensemble made Thelonious Monk's "Hackensack" their own in a rollicking interpretation full of vigor. At one point, the rest of the band would drop out as tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover and bassist Noriko Ueda went the distance together tossing phrases back and forth. As she would do throughout, Miller offered organic accompaniment that was as musical as it was rhythmically compelling.

A tip of the hat should go to musical director Rosnes for bringing into the book Lyle Mays' "Slink," a key number from the late pianist's first solo record. A cagey and challenging line, Jensen and Glover pulled off the leading melody with aplomb. Following a stunning conclusion to that piece, an equally remarkable statement would come from Glover as she stepped into the spotlight for Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing." Tapping the lower registers of her horn and the breathy character of tenor titans such as Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, Glover proved that she is a true talent on the rise.

Jensen's centerpiece would be her own original, "Timber," an intricate number with two distinct sections. The opening sound effects would progressively lead into the swinging main section that found Jensen sagaciously utilizing electronics with her trumpet. Employing trumpeter Terence Blanchard's arrangement of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," the ensemble would wrap up the evening on a high note that left a beholden audience wanting more. Artemis obliged with the apropos message of Burt Bacharach's "What the World Needs Now" and one couldn't help but feel like a communion of sorts had taken place over the course of the evening.




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