The crowd was spilling out on the lawn outside the OLG tent for Christine Jensen's Jazz Orchestra on Saturday night, despite the late hour. And they weren't disappointed, as the 19-member big band put on a fiery and well-disciplined performance.
The performance covered much of the orchestra's new CD, Treelines, with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen a strong presence as guest soloist. Saxophonist Christine Jensen wrote almost all the pieces on the album; they were primarily inspired by trees and water on Canada's West Coast, where she grew up, with titles like Arbutus and Red Cedar. Particular highlights were Sea Fever, and the one piece not written by Jensen, Dropoff, by her husband, saxophonist Joel Miller, who also soloed on it.
Although obviously more alive and immediate, the performance seemed fairly close to the album, except perhaps for a more noticeable bass line in a number of pieces (which added a lively feel). But that was understandable: bass player Fraser Hollins (a long-time collaborator with Jensen) turned 40 on Saturday, and as she put it, "we let him have an extra-long bass solo" in honour of his birthday.
Jensen actively conducted the orchestra, and only picked up the soprano sax for one piece near the end of the show.
Given its size, it's not surprising that the orchestra's summer tour will only consist of three cities: Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal. Ottawa audiences showed they appreciated the exclusivity: they gave the orchestra an immediate standing ovation at the end of the 90-minute show, and there were many calls for an encore. Jensen instead invited audience members to the Festival jam session – which ended up full to bursting like her concert, perhaps?
– Alayne McGregor
Click any photo below to see a larger view. All photos ©Brett Delmage, 2010