In writing about trumpeter Ingrid Jensen's Here on Earth
, I concluded with this thought: "While Jensen's style is distinctive, and she is a capable leader who surrounds herself with performers who understand the importance of interplay, one walks away... feeling that there is more to be seen, that she has yet to deliver a definitive statement.
With At Sea she delivers that definitive statement. While she shares compositional credit with others, including band mate/keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer and Cole Porter, there's a conceptual focus about the disc. Rather than being a discrete collection of tunes, it takes the listener on a musical travelogue, dovetailing beautifully with "Inside Passages, the theme of her new website. At times vividly visual, elsewhere more an evocative emotional journey, it may be possible to enjoy tracks independently, but At Sea works best when taken as a whole.
Though Jensen's early aspiration was to "be Miles Davis, she shares more in common with another Canadian ex-pat, Kenny Wheeler. Like Wheeler, her far-reaching technique allows exploration of the full range of her instrument without ever sounding brashretaining full-bodied warmth instead. But while Wheeler's approach has always been born of an introspective melancholy, Jensen's is far more outgoing, demonstrated to great effect on the episodic waltz-time album closer, "KD Lang. Jensen ranges from powerfully intricate ideation to more fragile lyricism, alluding to the Canadian singer for whom the piece was written. Jensen's writing is considerably more complex than Lang's, shifting from elegantly melodic to the pedal-to-the-metal modal swing of Keezer's vivacious solo. But its sense of open spaces and singable themes makes it a fitting tribute.
Drummer Jon Wikan is the perfect fit for a program that travels from the bittersweet impressionism of the title track to Keezer's "Captain Jon, suggesting how the Pat Metheny Group might sound were pianist Lyle Mays the dominant voice, instead of the iconic guitarist. Jensen's solo perfectly combines construction and greater abandon, building waves of sound over Keezer's occasional reference to an Afro-Cuban vibe.
Even a more relaxed piece like Jensen's "As Love Does masks a level of detail that's again reminiscent of Wheeler's ability to create deceptively complicated charts which fix themselves firmly in memory. The right-hand linear phrasing of Keezer's solo is all the more remarkable for the way in which he locks into the empathic support of Wikan and bassist Matthew Clohesy with his left.
Guitarist Lage Lund guests on two tracks, most notably on Keezer's "Tea and Watercolors, where, as opposed to the version on the pianist's Wildcrafted: Live at the Dakota, everyone jumps in the pool, with Lund, Jensen and Keezer magically managing to find their own space within the animated vortex of the modal solo section.
Jensen's been receiving high praise for some time, even rated by Down Beat as one of the "25 most important musicians of the future. But earlier albums have always been more promise than delivery. With At Sea Jensen has truly arrived, making a career-defining album that should take her to the next level.
Note: At Sea is only available through Ingrid Jensen and ArtistShare on the web.
At Sea; Storm; Captain Jon; As Love Does; Tea and Watercolors; There is No Greater Love; Everything I love; Swotterings; KD Lang
Ingrid Jensen: trumpet, flugelhorn; Geoffrey Keezer: piano, Fender Rhodes, keyboards; Jon Wikan: drums, caj