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Nordic Connect: Flurry

Dan McClenaghan By

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Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen's profile has risen on her featured soloist work with the Maria Schneider Orchestra. She has her own career as a leader—her At Sea (ArtistShare, '06) garnered several glowing reviews on this website. Her Nordic Connect outing, Flurry should lift that profile to the highest level.

Jensen has teamed with her sister, alto saxophonist Christine Jensen, pianist Maggi Olin, drummer Jon Wikan and bassist Mattias Welin. All of the band members have a genetic "connect" to the Nordic lands, with Olin and Welin both Swedish-born.

The outing is dubbed a "side project" for Jensen. The band will hopefully turn into a major vehicle for her—and her band mates'—artistic expression; it is her finest work to date, the most cohesive and deeply beautiful set she's crafted.

The title cut opens the set, with Olin's piano searching in an ECM mood inside the wandering bass/drums sound before the sisters Jensen blow in with some soft harmony, punctuated by the sharper cries from the trumpet. It's a group dynamic that brings Miles Davis' Nefertiti (Columbia, '67) to mind; with a laidback, contemplative approach underlain by brief bursts of explosive intensity from Wikan.

"Flurry," the tune, was written by Olin. The set may be headed up by Jensen, but collaboration seems the key here. Olin penned three of the nine tunes; Christine Jensen wrote four more and Ingrid Jensen contributes two compositions.

Words like haunting and melancholy can be used to describe the vibe of the CD; but a sense of cool optimism pervades a sense of contemplative wonder. On Jensen's "Things I Love" you can feel a tinge of mystery. Olin plays the Fender Rhodes here, with its "icicle snapping" (Nordic?) sound, while Wikan adds a contrasting warmer color on the cajon.

While the Jensen sisters have recorded together before, Christine Jensen is a real discovery for me. Her tone is smooth and sweet on soprano ("Seafever") and her alto has a puckering tang on "Flurry." She solos with an intelligent zest, filling the space with lots of surprises; she builds a sonic simmer that always seems to be sitting about half a second this side of a rolling boil—a perfect contrast to her sister's generally more fluid, stretched-out approach to soloing on trumpet and flugelhorn.

In the sub-genre of two horns and rhythm section jazz, it's rare to hear a fresh new sound. This is one of the finest sets in that category I've heard this year. Indeed, Flurry will have to be considered for top ten status across the categories.

Track Listing: Flurry; Sweet Adelphi; Things I Love; Sweet Dream; Garden Hour; Seascape; Seafever; Cowboy; Breathe/Quadr.

Personnel: Ingrid Jensen: trumpet, flugelhorn, effects; Christine Jensen: alto and soprano saxophones; Maggi Olin: piano, Fender Rhodes; Jon Wikan: drums, cajon, percussion; Mattias Welin: bass.

Title: Flurry | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ArtistShare

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