A Mind for the Scenery

Tim Jensen

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A Mind for the Scenery Review

by Adam Greenberg

From Tim Jensen, a sax player roving between the two areas of influence of Detroit and the Northwest (Portland to be exact), comes this, his second album. It's an interesting set, largely of original compositions. The range covered on the album makes it rather difficult to categorize, specifically as one style or another, but the bulk could be placed into a post-bop section, or the catch-all term of modern jazz. The album starts out with a nice opening groove, moving through some big band material followed by an arrangement of "Green Dolphin Street" featuring Jensen in full solo mode on the piccolo, of all instruments. It works surprisingly well. Some Dylan is given a bit of a lounge treatment, followed immediately by another nice groove, powered largely by the rhythm section. "Lament for Larry" comes across as something of an oddity, as a nearly showtune-style vocal is laid out by guest vocalist Brenda Baker (Jensen has spent time touring with Cats and Les Misérables, so it's not entirely inconceivable). On "Fiasco," Jensen moves over to the flute and pares down the musicians working with him a bit, leaving a sparser sound that they then use to mold into some very contrapuntal free jazz of sorts, mixed with a big band aesthetic that soon takes over a larger portion. Moreover, there are some excellent solos here by tenor saxist Rob Scheps, trumpeter Paul Mazzlo, and trombonist Jeff Uusitalo. On "Mambrino Flats," the emphasis on Dave Captein's bass, combined with the use of the bass clarinet by Jensen, allows for something mildly recalling the days of Mingus and Dolphy, but with a definite piano jazz element alternating with the freer elements. Ending the album is a more worthwhile stab at the free jazz elements, with passages at the beginning and end of "Felpham's Vale" of the clashing Albert Ayler-esque horn treatments typical of the avant-garde movement. All in all, it's a fine album by any mark. A little incoherent for some ears, perhaps, but worthwhile regardless.

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