Big Band Jazz Ensemble collaborate with gifted musician, Ingrid Jensen

A night full of lively music for Jazz Day 

Ingrid Jensen and the Big Band ensemble hold the final crescendo led by conductor Joey Sellers. (Andrea Clemett/Lariat)

Ingrid Jensen, a trumpeter from British Columbia collaborated with Saddleback’s Big Band Ensemble for Jazz Days at McKinney Theatre last Saturday. She is accomplished around the world for her music, composing and zealously teaching students.

Jazz Day brings audiences internationally recognized guest artists, such as James Moody, Clay Jenkins and Bill Holman. Guest musicians work with students and explore the process of composing.

The Big Band Jazz ensemble course is taught by composer and trombonist Joey Sellers. The class meets every Wednesday night and is a mixture of community members and young, ambitious musicians who require this applied music experience in order to transfer to four-year universities.

Nick Robbins bassist struming a solo during the piece “Late Boomer” by Clay Jenkins. (Andrea Clemett/Lariat)

Nick Robbins bassist struming a solo during the piece “Late Boomer” by Clay Jenkins. (Andrea Clemett/Lariat)

“For some of the community members enrolled in the course are already professional musicians because we play extremely creative music here, it is not like a traditional big band,” said Saddleback College director of jazz studies, Joey Sellers. “It’s challenging for them and some aspiring students are working at places like Disneyland, with the hopes of coming here to take off.”

Jensen began playing music at a young age alongside her sister, saxophonist and composer, Christine Jensen. Both were raised listening to an abundance of instrumental music. Influences like Louis Armstrong as well as Chet Baker, who coupled horn playing with vocals. Jensen used singing as an extension to connect her ears to the music. 

“Ingrid was a great choice because she’s a wonderful musician and a great composer,” Sellers added.

Jensen led the band through a piece she composed entitled “At Sea.” Started as a pentatonic idea, it was inspired by a 10-day sailing odyssey led by her husband on their honeymoon, adventuring through southeast Alaska. The voyage on the 40-foot yacht experienced distress through the stormy seas that were conveyed in a solo by a soprano saxophonist.

During the introduction of the piece, Jensen gently tapped on the back of her mouthpiece and recorded these few seconds of dabbing, on a group of pedals much like a guitarist uses to manipulate sounds. She added a windblown noise from her horn without buzzing her lips, achieving the windy weather conditions of the sea. Combining the two recorded sounds she looped them and the ensemble proceeded with the slow melodic sounds of “At Sea.”

The morning of the concert Björk was playing in Jensen’s hotel room. For over 15 years she has experimented with sampling and reverbing pieces, but within the context of jazz. This nontraditional style of opening or closing compositions with jazzy beats, promoted listening and interacting for the musicians.

“I find with the electronics it’s relevant now because they are all into it. This method is helping students to listen in a different way,” Jensen said.

Composing music on the road for the siblings at times was lonesome being away from family and familiarity. Ingrid spoke about compositions which were reminiscent of home. One of her last pieces was derived from her horseback riding days while listening to jazz on her Walkman.

Big Band Ensemble (Andrea Clemett/Lariat)

“Creating a different atmosphere that communicates the experience that I had and then I get to share it with people. Whether or not it sounds like horseback riding to them, for me it’s a symbol or a memory on paper, which can be different every time in this complicated music.  It’s not the same every night and different from the last time I have played,” Jensen said.

She relishes guest artist performances to extend her passion for teaching. The morning before the band performance, Jensen reviewed the Oscar Peterson Trio and discussed controlling tempo speeds of enthusiastic performances. Additionally, she teaches an ensemble of seven students at the New School in New York and private trumpet instruction at Purchase College in New York.

Ingrid Jensen dedicated the jazz performance to the students traveling and advocating for change in Florida. Closing the concert, the audience gave the musicians a standing ovation and lined up for signed CDs.