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A vocal and instrumental tour de force. The brilliant musicianship of her band compliments Bonnie’s soulful interpretations and unique approaches to her diverse selection of songs, including three engaging originals.
Sydney vocalist and pianist Bonnie J Jensen retains most of the quality jazz players in this septet from her previous two albums. She composed three tracks, collaborated on arrangements and plays accompanying piano on several. There are standards, some unusual vocal pieces and one down-home blues number, “Ain’t No Use”.
Her style is nightclub chanteuse, drawing on many influences, sounding sometimes reminiscent of Renee Geyer, at other times traces of Peggy Lee or Sarah Vaughan emerge.
Soloists have adequate space: saxophonist Craig Walters contributes sympathetically, Jeremy Sawkins delivers effortless guitar and Miroslav Bukovsky’s broad-toned trumpet is super-heated on “A Night in Tunisia”, a challenging vocal piece, cleverly arranged with unusual variations. Jensen’s title ballad, an original, displays a talent for both musical composition and poetic lyrics, evident too on “Neon Soliloquy”: “Like a diamond in the river, as precious as African rain, this glimpse of bliss will sustain you – again and again.
John McBeath – The Weekend Australian
…Jensen takes over the keyboard for one of the better jazz-inflected cover versions of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing I’ve heard in recent years (there have perhaps been many, but she brings something fresh to it), for two of her originals and for the late Irish songwriter Noel Brazil’s Columbus. The best-known version of the tune was previously Mary Black’s.
As always with Jensen, it’s an interesting set of interpretations that pays due respect to heritage in the choice of standards and compositions by jazz musicians, but breaks them up with contemporary composition. Jensen generally chooses, with rare intelligence, songs that suit her voice and applies high standards to her own compositions.
Her phrasing on The Sapphire Tree puts me in mind of Joni Mitchell rather than Diana Krall, with whom she tends to be compared, and she digs down deep into the blues for Aeroblue.
Her record company’s press release says the other original, Neon Soliloquy, is reminiscent of Miles Davis’ soundtrack for Louis Malle’s film Ascenseur pour L’Echaffaud. It isn’t particularly, although it does feature a harmon-muted trumpet played by Miroslav Bukovsky, Miles’ signature sound. It also reminds me more of Joni Mitchell during her jazz period, performing songs such as Furry Sings the Blues.
The straight-ahead jazz tunes are well chosen. Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia, when Jon Hendricks’ lyrics, is a vocal tour de force and an instrumental one for the band. Night and Day and Angel Eyes are tastefully interpreted and she revisits her bluesy side with Ain’t No Use, which features some effective guitar from Jeremy Sawkins.
The album concludes with Lead The Way, written by American drummer Brian Blade.
Robin Lynam – South China Post