REVIEW: Ingrid Jensen at Ronnie Scott's

Ingrid Jensen (right), with Phil Meadows directing the Engines Orchestra
Photo credit: Carl Hyde 

Ingrid Jensen (with UK Quartet, and Engines Orchestra)
(Ronnie Scott's, June 5th 2016. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

Many jazz musicians from overseas pass through the UK, but Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based trumpeter Ingrid Jensen seems to have a special and consistent way of establishing the connections that take her far deeper into the heart of our community than most. The late Richard Turner managed to persuade her to play at the Con Cellar bar back in 2009 (apologies for the seventies sports car pun). Last night was the last of a six-date tour with a UK quartet, organized by another indefatigable and highly effective trumpeter/organizer/instigator: this was in fact the first tour to be organized by Kim Macari's Orpheus Arts (preview feature).

Not only has Jensen been working with a UK band, and prepared a new programme and appeared as soloist with Phil Meadows' Engines Orchestra, she also found time on Saturday to work with the young bands of NYJO London, for what by all accounts was a completely inspiring session.

The UK quartet put together for the tour, with Jez Franks on guitar and Andy Champion on bass, had clearly gelled through gigging, and even with a replacement drummer for this last night of the tour (Dave Ingamells, excellent, replacing Tim Giles) the first half of last night's show was a wholly happy and more-ish experience.

Jensen and Franks were exploring the borders of silence on Ratios with the guitarist proving again that one sure way to gain the audience's undivided attention at Ronnie's is to start quiet, and to get even quieter. Dots and Braids found them exploring counterpoint together in a thoughtful Art Farmer-plus-Jim Hall kind of way, and their closing number, Kenny Wheeler's Old Time gave the modest and shy Canadian composer's tune an irresistible combination of New York caffeine, energy, punch, swagger and sheer power.

This quartet setting showed all of the three Brits to best advantage. Andy Champion, too rarely heard in London, came across as authoritative, his solo on Maggie Olin's Flowers was one of the highlights of the evening, and Dave Ingamells was characterful throughout, pushing and provoking lively things to happen in the tune Centre Song, reminiscent of Kenny Barron's Voyage.

The second half brought the full textural variety of the Engines Orchestra to the stage. The group has a lot of possibilities and colours, and the best moments were when the scoring brought these out. Pizzicato strings as background figures led to some superb trumpet interjections from Jensen, adding a flute into the string colour was effective too, and giving Ingrid Jensen a high trumpet (James Davidson) to spar with led to lively interchanges. The most effective composition was Jensen's At Sea Suite, with fascinating evocations of the natural sounds of the sea, a tempestuous middle section, and a final return to serenity.

The Quartet. L-R: Jez Franks, Dave Ingamells (partly hidden),
Ingrid Jensen, Andy Champion
Photo credit: Carl Hyde 



Ingrid Jensen - trumpet
Jez Franks - guitar
Andy Champion - bass
Dave Ingamells -drums

Joined for the second set by the Engines Orchestra

Violin 1 - Emily Davis
Viloin 2 - Katherine Waller
Viola - Matt Maguire
Cello - Zosia Jagodzinska
Trumpet - James Davidson
French Horn - Eddie Morgan
Tenor Trombone - Raf Clarkson
Flute – Jennah Smart
Clarinet/soprano sax – Rob Cope
Bass Clarinet – Gennie Joy

The next Orpheus tour will feature bassist Ellery Eskelin

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