Jazzfest preview: Christine Jensen leads the festival’s signature, gender-balanced big band Tuesday

When the distinctively named = Jazz Orchestra makes its debut Tuesday at the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, it couldn’t have a greater lady at the helm than Christine Jensen.

The Montreal-based saxophonist and bandleader, 49, has led her personal jazz orchestra for greater than a decade, successful a Juno Award for every of its two recordings. She and her sister, the world-class New York-based trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, have been position fashions for ladies in jazz in Canada and past since they made their first recordings in the 1990s.

In the NAC Studio on Tuesday night time, the = Jazz Orchestra, a gender-balanced big band uniting musicians from Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, will have a good time a subset of Canada’s jazz sisterhood. In the band with Jensen are pianist Marianne Trudel, a fellow Montrealer, plus the Toronto-based horn gamers Allison Au, Tara Davidson and Rebecca Hennessy, and the New York City-based Canadian expat Anna Webber. The challenge is absolutely in sync with the jazz festival’s purpose of reaching gender parity in its bookings this 12 months.

Below, Jensen discusses the particular challenge, which she hopes might be greater than a one-off.

Q: How did this new band come to be?

A: It was a little bit of a brainstorm that I used to be having with Petr Cancura at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, about presenting extra of a stability in big bands, whereas the way forward for the place the music goes.

At the identical time, Petr and Catherine (O’Grady, the jazz festival’s government producer) are actually engaged on a balanced pageant program this 12 months with gender stability. I used to be at the Monterey Jazz Festival final 12 months, and it was the most superb stability occurring there, with the biggest vibe amongst musicians and viewers.

We began planning this winter, after I acquired actually impressed after placing a extremely robust orchestra at the Oscar Peterson Jazz Festival. Its creative director, the superb Renee Rosnes, requested that I carry out my music with a Toronto-based horn part. I used to be capable of get 4 ladies in the horn part, plus Ingrid as soloist.

This time, I’m able to get six very robust feminine voices out of the 13 horns, plus the superb wizard of spontaneity Marianne Trudel, who’s including her music with some excerpts from the suite that she wrote just a few years again for the orchestra nationwide jazz de Montreal.

Somehow the general repertoire of this live performance is, to me, “the voice of the now,” with compositions from Marianne, myself, Rebecca, Tara and Anna. Oh — we’re including Carla Bley’s music, as a result of her music will not be carried out sufficient exterior of her personal band.

Q: Tell me about the connections you might have or are about to have with a few of the orchestra’s different ladies.

A: I like Marianne’s power. We float by way of totally different mixtures of ensembles in Montreal and all the time have plenty of enjoyable performing collectively.

Anna was as soon as in a McGill ensemble that I directed. I additionally love her power and her quest, new music assembly improvisation at an especially excessive stage. Allison and Tara are gems, with equally robust composition and improv abilities and nice sound. They labored with me on my live performance at the Oscar Peterson Jazz Festival with Renee, together with Rebecca, who can also be happening a extremely inventive path.

Q: Do you hope you will get different bookings for this challenge down the highway?

A: It could be superb to maintain engaged on this idea of presenting residing composers, with an much more even voice in composition and efficiency.

Q: Overall, what progress is being made in jazz when it comes to combating discrimination in opposition to ladies and advancing gender points?

A: There’s a number of pluses occurring proper now. These are altering occasions. Women nonetheless have a methods to go in breaking the glass ceiling on the important stage, and in the extra elite jazz establishments. But there may be plenty of work getting achieved with everybody turning into extra aware and discovering options. There are extra alternatives for younger ladies to discover in a secure area with academic alternatives and jam areas. Everyone, particularly the youthful technology of musicians, is so extra conscious.

= Jazz Orchestra
TD Ottawa Jazz Festival
When: Tuesday, June 25, 7 p.m.
Where: NAC Studio
Tickets: ottawajazzfestival.com

[email protected]


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