Guest artists to swing in Carnival with help of Barbary Coast

by Marley Marius | 2/5/14 5:43pm

British Columbia natives and popular jazz musicians Ingrid and Christine Jensen will join director Donald Glasgo and his Barbary Coast Jazz ensemble to kick off the 38th annual Winter Carnival Concert this Saturday.

Barbary Coast will perform pieces written by Christine Jensen. Joel Miller, her husband, will accompany on clarinet and tenor saxophone.

Raised in Nanaimo, British Columbia, the Jensens were introduced to jazz by their mother, a pianist. As Ingrid Jensen learned the jazz trumpet and flugelhorn, Christine Jensen studied the jazz saxophone.

“Growing up, there was not a lot of pop music in our household,” Christine Jensen said. “It was more Oscar Peterson and Freddie Hubbard.”

Nanaimo, the hometown of jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall, had a rich swing-band tradition, Ingrid Jensen said.

“It’s a coal-mining town, so there was really a need for light and festivities,” she said.

After graduating from the Berklee College of Music in 1989, Ingrid Jensen went from playing the trumpet on New York subways to working with groups such as the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. A clinician and instructor at McGill University, Christine Jensen has traveled around the world leading the award-winning Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra.

Glasgo, a trombonist and jazz composer, said that the Jensens’ work has a theatrical nature.

“Everything they do musically, whether composed or improvised, tells a story with a beginning, middle and end and takes you on a journey,” he said.

Christine Jensen said that she tries to write melodic material that resonates with audiences.

“I sometimes like to think of short stories and transfer them to my music,” she said.

Both sisters said that jazz’s raw culture of experimentation has waned in recent years. A social and street-based art form, jazz needs better funding and a way to draw musicians without betraying its roots, Christine Jensen said.

To promote the arts, the community must back elementary school music education programs and student groups like the Barbary Coast, Christine Jensen said.

Earlier this week, the Jensens guest lectured at three courses on jazz history, improvisation and oral tradition musicianship.

The concert will be held on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium.