Ingrid Jensen - trumpet, effects, kalimba and melodica
Christine Jensen - alto & soprano saxophones
Ben Monder - guitars
Fraser Hollins - double bass
Jon Wikan - drums
Produced by Christine and Ingrid Jensen
Co-produced by Paul Johnston
Recorded at Studio Pierre Marchand in Montreal, Canada on July 3 & 4, 2015
Engineered by Paul Johnston
Engineer Assistant Philippe Jeansonne
Mixed by Paul Johnston
Mastered by Guy Hebert at Karisma Studios
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
released October 28, 2016
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Infinitude – the concept of boundless possibility – is at the center of the music of Ingrid and Christine Jensen. Over the past twenty years or so, as trumpeter and saxophonist respectively, the West Canadian sisters have each shaped prolific careers in contemporary jazz, collaborating with influential names such as Clark Terry, Maria Schneider and Terry Lynn Carrington, working with large and small ensembles, and responding to various commissions to compose for jazz orchestras around the globe.
For their Whirlwind debut, the Jensens have realized a long-held ambition – to write for and perform in the more intimate setting of a quintet, combining their intuitive, sibling trust with the creativity of renowned guitarist Ben Monder and the foundational artistry of bassist Fraser Hollins and drummer Jon Wikan. The particular rapport within this grouping is expressed by Christine (composer of half of this album’s material), describing the environment as being less about soloing, but with an emphasis on the question, “How are we all going to dive into this pool and swim together.” The resulting immersion, recorded in the studio across two days, sounds both live and organic, with Ingrid confirming her close relationship with her sister: “It doesn’t actually feel like we’re producing. We already have this flow which continues as we perform together – we can find space, and craziness, and find our way in and out of it, as well.”
The conversational feel which pervades this album’s sixty-eight minutes is illustrated in opening track ‘Blue Yonder’, where Ingrid’s mellifluous trumpet technique (sounded through her custom-created flugel-cupped mouthpiece and ‘flumpet’ bell) melds with Christine’s warm, legato alto to conjure the aura of a wordless vocal. Such grace is echoed by the often understated though lynchpin presence of Ben Monder (whose effect is explained by Christine as “something which is intimate, yet full of the future”); and that same quiet fire is evident in grittier, rock-tinged ‘Swirlaround’ and a freewheeling, even punkish interpretation of Kenny Wheeler’s ‘Old Time’.
The soft, melodic beauty of ‘Hopes Trail’ transcends its underlying inspiration of political disillusionment, reinforcing our need to, at least, musically rise above (accentuated by ascending, chromatic soprano); and written for a kindred spirit of Christine’s, the chirpy mobility of ‘Octofolk’ features especially connected trumpet and alto adventures, all underpinned by Ben Monder’s textures and a spirited rhythm section. Extended lines in Ingrid’s elegant ‘Dots and Braids’ – which reflect Christine’s lyrical saxophone persona – are contrasted with shorter statements (also informally referencing Canadian pianist/composer David Braid), while the increasing fullness of buoyant, bossa-infused ‘Echolalia’ (written by Monder) hints at the sisters’ expertise in an orchestral jazz setting.
‘Duo Space’ and ‘Trio: Garden Hour’ provide a different perspective, their reduced instrumentations and improvisations offering further insight into the deep-seated need of these imaginative musicians to express themselves and search out new sounds in an arena which welcomes such freedom. Describing the experience, Ingrid says: “I need that interaction and empathy experience which comes from playing good gigs with good people; a creative outpouring of my soul. With this line-up and these compositions, it’s really easy to channel the freer ideas that are still in the context of the music, but which provide us with the ability to go to that place where we all feel like we’re most ourselves – and that truly is a gift.” As Christine concludes: “What Ingrid and I have worked on together for so long has now finally been documented in a special way that includes some surprises, especially with our choice of the wonderful Ben Monder – when he says, “I’m gonna play”… you just know that it’s going to be something real special and meaningful. For us, with Infinitude, this is just the beginning.”
"It is the combined years of experience that render the communication amongst Infinitude's five players so fluid, so seemingly effortless and yet so intrinsically deep".
★★★★½ All About Jazz
"This is an album of fine writing and sublime musicianship."
Bebop Spoken Here
"The arrangements are filled with air and light, allowing the listener to be completely enthralled with the gorgeous tone of both horns."
The Jazz Breakfast
"(Infinitude) achieves a rare distinction of being able to simultaneously combine tranquillity with rhythmic vibrancy, coalescing in a near hypnotic fusion of tone and colour. A rare delight."
★★★★ All About Jazz
"Warm, spacious and empathically played album... The harmonies are subtly mysterious and the group playing a delight."
"Almost frightening technical mastery is tempered by wide-open ears that render every chord, every note absolutely relevant."
★★★★½ All About Jazz
"The sisters are outstanding on their respective instruments... strong and creative throughout."
"There's an impressively fluid understanding between the Canadian Jensen sisters in atmospheric, graceful folk-jazz dialogue."
"Echoes of Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Kenny Wheeler shimmer through the material in a dreamy, ruminative fashion, giving a good sense of light and shade to the intricate compositions."
★★★★ Jazz Journal
"The Jensen sisters have a signature sound, above all fusing Ingrid’s wending, world-class soloing with Christine’s lyrical compositions. This small ensemble CD generally keeps to that formula, although Christine on saxophone hits new heights and U.S. guitar genius Ben Monder is a wild card who energizes the proceedings."
Ottawa Citizen - Best Canadian Jazz Albums of 2016
"Haunting melodies with a big horizon."
"Saxophone and trumpet melodies flow fluidly from organic unison to telepathic harmonic divergences... before the guitarist [Monder] picks up the baton for a delay/reverb/distortion-drenched feature of monstrous virtuosity."
★★★★½ All About Jazz
"Flawless... An impeccable rhythm section and textural innovation from Ben Monder."
"There's a wonderful cohesion about this album with a tremendous group spirit and several inspired solos."
"Top notch by any standard."
★★★★½ Winnipeg Free Press
"A fully Canadian jazz sound, imbued with local colors and international modernism... Magical."
"The writing is rich, colourful and varied and also highly evocative with a true cinematic quality."
The Jazz Mann
"Infinitude represents a truly egalitarian collective... with compositional depth and improvisational heights."
★★★★½ All About Jazz
"The horns unwind thoughtful, relaxed, conversational lines over the energetic rhythm section."
"Their [Ingrid & Christine Jensen] individual styles share a compelling sense of spaciousness and a keen alertness to voicings and sound."
“Superb musicality... This exquisite, understated album may stand as one of the best albums of the year.”
Jazz History Online
"Beauty, power, melody, noise, all enter the sonic soundscape... The sisters are a formidable force in contemporary music."
"Deeply personal album of original improvisations with well-crafted arrangements that also features their soloing abilities."
Jazz Hot France
“Strong, folk-tinged melodies, spacious, austere harmony and slow-burn grooves that ebb and flow like the tide.”
★★★★ Irish Times
“Sonically lush, harmonically rich... there is a forcefulness to this project that should make it stand apart in the long history of the Jensen’s collaboration.”
Jazz Scene (OR)
“An inspired exploration of diverse soundscapes and beautiful melodies.”
REC Radio (FR)
"In this quintet lineup, they [Ingrid and Christine Jensen] present themselves once again in top form."
"A collection of pastoral pieces that come across like audible water color paintings."
"The three solo voices invent vast, colorful spaces rich in melodies and singular harmonies.”
Culture Jazz (FR)
“Music seemingly made up more of silence than extraneous sound. Yet everywhere – in the ethereal trumpet, or the echoing guitar and the solitary saxophone – there is inconceivable, heart-rending beauty…”
“An exciting and unique musical world.”
Tor Hammero (BL)
"The music on Infinitude is pristine; like pure life expressing itself within and through its unique structure. Each phrase enunciated by Ingrid and Christine Jensen is like an absolute moment; alive and significant, and made up of notes made as if by blackbirds rising from a northern field; delicious and beyond compare."