The concept of boundless possibilities in the name of the latest project by Ingrid and Christine Jensen is the best way to describe their prolific careers. Through her work mainly on the New York jazz scene, Ingrid collaborated with a number of small combos as leader or sideman, and for almost two decades she has been in the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra.
Christine is a part of the Montreal scene, she has been awarded the Oscar Peterson Prize of the FIJM 2017 and the same year was voted Rising Star – Soprano Sax in the Downbeat Critics Poll. This joint project won the JUNO (Canadian equivalent of Grammy) in the category Jazz Album of the Year: Group, for 2018. Jensen Sisters: Infinitude (Canada / Sweden) will perform at 34th Belgrade Jazz Festival on October 25th at Dom omladine Beograda, Americana Hall (10.30 pm). Concert is supported by the Embassy of Canada, tickets available via EVENTIM service.
You have great careers, many prestigious awards and numerous collaborations with different jazz orchestras, but this project is a very special one – is it harder or easier to play with a sister in the band?
Christine Jensen: It is like putting a glove on that fits perfectly. I always enjoy any time I have to collaborate with Ingrid, as her sound and ideas constantly stimulate me to search for new sounds in this music.
Your collaboration is called “Infinitude”. What does that infinity refer to?
Christine Jensen: Unlimited possibilities: I came up with Infinitude after looking for words related to Infinity. Having no limit or limits. We felt this way with the music we recorded, and every time we get together there is more and more in front of us to explore with a vast open space to bounce around and collect and share new outlooks in our melodic, harmonic and rhythmic ideas through set compositions and improvisation.
Please tell us more about the program you will perform at Belgrade Jazz festival.
Christine Jensen: We are excited to collaborate with some Europe-based musicians that are really old friends. They will join us on the music that we have been performing since releasing our album Infinitude with NY guitarist Ben Monder two years ago. In Belgrade we will be joined by our dear friend Maggi Olin on piano and Rhodes. She is one of Sweden’s greatest contemporary jazz artists and composers. We will also play some of her music, as we tour with her with a few other projects including Nordic Connect, where we all collaborate as composers and improvisers. We will also be accompanied by a Paris-based Canadian rhythm section, including Karl Jannuska on drums (also a great composer) and Chris Jennings on acoustic bass. I have known Karl since we attended McGill University’s jazz program in the ‘90s. I met Chris in Paris in 2002, while I was on a composition residency at the Cité des Arts. We ended up performing together and sessioning on any music we were working on while I was there. Ingrid has also toured with Chris in Europe with another amazing Swedish musician, trombonist Karin Hammer.
Both of you have played alongside many great artists. Which collaboration(s) do you remember as something very important for you as a musician, and why?
Christine Jensen: Anything with Ingrid and Maggi! There are too many experiences to just pick out one for me, but I think being able to perform with trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler in Banff in the 90’s was one of many highlights, and it motivated me to continue as a composer and improviser.
Do you know anything about Serbia? Are you familiar with Serbian (jazz) scene?
Christine Jensen: I know very little, except for the politics of the early 2000’s. I now have a student at McGill University that is a jazz pianist from Belgrade named Aleksandar Uzelac. Through his strong performance, he has been introducing me to the idea that there must be some great jazz musicians in this country.
This year’s slogan of Belgrade Jazz Festival is “No limits”. How do you feel about limits in modern jazz music, are there any?
Christine Jensen: Oh, that matches the idea of Infinitude perfectly. We plan on having no limits in our performance. Jazz is all about creating and reacting, and we plan on bringing our artistry and knowledge of this art form to the stage with no limits.