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Home > McGill News > 2001 > Spring 2001 > Reviews

Collage, Effendi Records, 2000, Christine Jensen, BMus'94.

Listen to an excerpt from Camel Trot
[Low quality MP3 728kb]
[High quality MP3 1,933kb]

The Jensen sisters have been stirring things up in the jazz scene both locally and in the U.S. for a few years now. Big sister Ingrid Jensen is an adventurous trumpet player who has lately been turning ears in New York City, and Christine has been gaining notoriety in Montreal, first with the McGill Jazz Orchestra and more recently with her own quintet at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and with saxophonist Joel Miller's group.

While Christine's compositions featured prominently on Ingrid's Juno award-winning Vernal Fields from 1997, Collage is her first solo foray. It has a decidedly contemporary sound, with frequent and rich layering of horn lines, complex rhythms from the supporting musicians, and constant mood shifts from this group of outstanding young players.

Jensen's direction has the sextet sounding at times like a much bigger band, and at others she has all the individual players weaving in and out of a common centre to create tremendous, tension-laden grooves. Ingrid Jensen's trumpet and flugelhorn soloing is particularly intriguing, an aggressive and exploratory approach, and she's obviously well attuned and well suited to her sister's compositional style.

Aside from her sister, Jensen is joined on the CD by Joel Miller, BMus'93, on tenor sax, Karl Junnaska, BMus'98, on drums, Fraser Hollins on bass, and Brad Turner, from Vancouver's electric, groove-oriented jazz quartet, Metalwood, on piano and electric piano.

This is not the easy-going, toe-tapping variety of jazz you might have caught recently in the celebrated Ken Burns documentary; it's an attempt to take the music in different directions -- inquisitive without being inaccessibly avant-garde. Comparisons have been made to the sound of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and they're appropriate -- talented young players, armed with interesting compositions and flying with them. The overall sound and mood is also occasionally reminiscent of recent Joe Henderson groups. Collage is not an album you'll digest in one sitting, since there is so much going on in the music. This, by the way, is a good thing, and the complexity is lush, not at all overwhelming.

Standout tunes include the opening "Camel Trot," "Summer Night," and "Marsh Blues," a driving blues that opens with a duet by the sisters and is carried along with tremendous verve by the inventive drumming of Karl Jannuska. Singling those compositions out does injustice to the rest of the CD, which is compelling throughout. This is a great debut for Christine Jensen: expect more good things from her.

Necessary Lies, Dundurn, 2000, $19.99, by Eva Stachniak, PhD'88.

This first novel by Stachniak follows the life of Anna, a Polish graduate student who comes to Montreal to study at McGill in the 1980s, but its heart lies in the European history that runs throughout the book and weighs on the main character. After falling out of love with her husband Piotr, a Polish nationalist, Anna ends up marrying William, a McGill music teacher, and remaining in Canada. With William's death ten years later and the revelation of his infidelity, Anna returns to Europe, beginning a journey of self-discovery amidst the reunification of Germany and the collapse of the Soviet empire. Set in Warsaw, Montreal, Berlin and other parts of Europe, the novel blends the personal with the political, and examines betrayal, loss and redemption through both psychological and political landscapes.

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