346

Christine Jensen: Look Left

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Christine Jensen: Look Left While Christine Jensen remains one of Canada's best kept secrets, she has garnered some international attention since emerging on the scene in the mid-1990s. Three of her compositions were featured on the highly regarded Vernal Fields (Enja, 1994), by her sister, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and she's had works for big band recorded and performed the world over. Still, outside Canada she remains a relatively unknown quantity in the grander scheme of things, something that Look Left deserves to rectify.

Jensen works in the "new mainstream arena also occupied by groups like the SFJazz Collective. Her music is undeniably straightforward, and the writing is slanted towards providing ample room for her piano/guitar/bass/drums quintet to explore. But Jensen's music also incorporates shifting meters and just the slightest hint of an outré edge to make this highly accessible set an exciting one that relies as much on the collective strength of the players as Jensen's substantive writing.

The majority of Look Left was composed in Paris, where Jensen lived and studied for six months courtesy of an Artist Studio grant, though it's rarely reflected in the music. The opening track, "Upper Fargo, references the Midwestern sounds of Pat Metheny and Dewey Redman, but its strong groove, courtesy of bassist Fraser Hollins and drummer Greg Ritchie, also has an assertive Latin edge that's made crystal clear during pianist Dave Restivo's vividly constructed solo.

Jensen's writing is innately lyrical. Her strong themes often provide grist for vamp-based solo sections that demonstrate just how well-oiled this quintet is. The relaxed groove of "Cedar refers to the Vancouver Island town she grew up in, but could just as easily be an homage to pianist Cedar Walton. While she never gets raucous, Jensen's alto solo creates an energy mirrored by Ritchie's intuitive response. Restivo delivers another strong solo that places Herbie Hancock-esque modernity within easy-on-the-ears thematic development. Guitarist Ken Bibace's warm-toned delivery mixes Jim Hall's clarity and economy with occasional bursts that never seem out of place.

Jensen's soprano playing rivals her capabilities as an altoist and composer, making her a triple threat. "Capers Papers is a complex yet approachable tune that shifts feels from a 9/4 modal vamp to a swinging 6/8 theme. Jensen's at her best here, building a solo from the ground floor up, gradually increasing in power and fluidity.

Jensen's harmonic and rhythmic approach is unequivocally contemporary, but she's patently rooted in a conventional jazz aesthetic. Look Left is a compelling set that will appeal to traditionally minded listeners, but has enough fire and angularity to appeal to those whose tastes run farther afield.

Track Listing: Upper Fargo; Cedar; Capers Papers; Keeping Up Appearances; Promenade; A Tree Things; Mark Adam Drum; For Tom Harrell; Look Left.

Personnel: Christine Jensen: alto and soprano saxophones; Dave Restivo: piano; Ken Bibace: guitar; Fraser Hollins: bass; Greg Ritchie: drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Effendi Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Welcome to Swingsville! CD/LP/Track Review Welcome to Swingsville!
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Points of View CD/LP/Track Review Points of View
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Migration Blues CD/LP/Track Review Migration Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 26, 2017
Read N.O. Escape CD/LP/Track Review N.O. Escape
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Reflections CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Life and Other Transient Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Life and Other Transient Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "Live at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival / Matt Savage: Piano Voyages" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival /...
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "The Edge of Visibility" CD/LP/Track Review The Edge of Visibility
by Jim Olin
Published: April 1, 2016
Read "Boston, 1954" CD/LP/Track Review Boston, 1954
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "Live In The South Bronx" CD/LP/Track Review Live In The South Bronx
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "One: Detroit-Cleveland Trio" CD/LP/Track Review One: Detroit-Cleveland Trio
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!