Sweet & Sour - A Challenging Combination
Brent Jensen's 2002 Origin release, "The Sound of a Dry Martini" was my introduction to Jensen. It was a tribute to the late Paul Desmond. It was highly enjoyable, often uncannily getting Desmond's dry, light, feathery tone down to a "T". Being unfamiliar with Jensen, I could not tell whether he was intentionally intending to mimic Desmond - a true feat as Desmond's tone is fairly unique; much like no one can truly approach the sensuous tone of Johnny Hodges.
Having a second opportunity to review Jensen, I've found that he is much more than a Desmond acolyte. His latest CD, Trios, finds Brent in trio territory, either playing with guitarist Jamie Findlay and drummer John Bishop, or with bassists Zac Matthews or Doug Miller.
The light Desmond touch is found on Beautiful Love, How Deep is the Ocean, and East of the Sun, with guitarist Findlay playing a role similar to what Jim Hall did with Desmond - lightly swinging with gentle interplay. Whereas, on Monk's Bemsha Swing, Jensen is more aggressive in tone, approaching avant in intensity. In this manner, he is ably supported by drummer Bishop. Bassist Miller adds his own firm double time plucking to an assertive Giant Steps.
In Softly as in a Morning Sunrise, Jensen truly leaves Desmond territory with tart phrasing reminiscent of late-stage Cannonball Adderley, taking this normally gentle standard even to a Middle Eastern aura. The CD closes with another Monk standard, Well You Needn't, taken at a darting Monkish pace with drummer Bishop and bassist Miller having prominent roles, and Jensen blowing with dominant assertive lines.
Trios shows Jensen in both tender and aggressive fashion, truly his own man. He can both sooth and intrigue, making Trios a challenging listen.