Swing Journal

Bonnie J Jensen

Interview/text: Keizo Takada
Translation: Clark Taber

"Her music expresses . . . "In life and love there's both sorrow and joy"

Bonnie J Jensen is a singer who was born in New Zealand and now works out of Sydney, Australia. Following her 2001 release "Lucky So& So", her new album "Blue Joy" is scheduled for release at almost the same time in Australia and Japan. "The title 'Blue Joy' is a gentle expression of the two sides of life and the love between man and woman. It's ironical perhaps; at times it can be really sorrowful, but, marvellously, there is also joy. Do you understand what I mean?"

Being herself a composer, she often comes up with challenging concepts. In this album she wanted more to take up new songs suited to the 21st century, so she included jazz renditions of songs by Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Leon Russell, Sting and others. She has included three of her original compositions as well. "I always strive to write with originality, so I don't like to think I've been influenced by anyone in particular. But, of those who have lent me inspiration, Sting is significant. He's marvellous; a true storyteller. You might be surprised, but it was only about a half-year ago that I came to appreciate Joni Mitchell. I think she possesses a unique talent."

"There's also James Taylor, and in the jazz field I like the songs of Dianne Reeves. My favourite singers/pianists are Dianne Reeves, Shirley Horn and Kurt Elling, I guess. I love Shirley Horn's piano- playing. As for pianists, I really like Keith Jarrett."

The quality and range of her voice are close to Diana Krall's. In that regard she replies, "Many people say so. I think Diana's piano-playing is marvellous."

"The quality of life in Sydney is the best, but for jazz work, it's an arduous existence and that's why I often prefer to find places to work overseas."

After leaving her birthplace New Zealand in the mid-1980s, she has been active travelling all over the world to Australia, Germany, Portugal, Italy, the Middle East, America and Japan. This is her second visit to Japan.

Bonnie is already planning for her third album on CD. It will most likely include original compositions carrying on the work heard in "Blue Joy", plus jazz renditions of contemporary songs. That's Bonnie Jensen, from whom, from here on, we can expect more and more as singer, pianist, composer and arranger.