All that Monday night jazz

The School of Music is getting back into the improvisational swing of things as it kicks off the eighth year of it’s Monday Night Jazz series. The first show this year will feature seasoned jazz player Ingrid Jensen, accompanied by the university’s own Chuck Owen and his 17-piece band.

Jensen, a Vancouver native, graduated from Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 1989. Since then, she has enjoyed a wealth of critical praise, including a listing as one of Downbeat Magazine’s 25 premier artists.

Jensen is currently based in New York and plays with the Mingus Big Band.

“(Jensen) is really the new young leading artist in improvisational music,” Jack Wilkins, director of jazz studies for the School of Music, said.

The style of jazz Jensen practices is light and fresh, more mellow and bemused than dark and brooding.Researching and exploring previous artists’ works gives younger artists the ability to become truly great improvisers, according to Wilkins.

After researching how some of the more accomplished artists have done in the past, Jensen builds and creates new versions of sounds “through her own voice.”

As a testament to her skill and respect in the worldwide jazz community, Jensen has been invited to play for the third time at the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference in New York next year.

It is an educational calling that brings Jensen to mTampa on Monday. One of the most critical parts of a pre-professional musician’s education is working with established artists, Wilkins said.

The jazz profession is difficult and demanding, especially as a composer, and requires musical and improvisational skills to succeed.

With that in mind, the school began the artists residency program to bring in career professionals to meet students.

Not only can they offer musical expertise with master classes, but also connections to the jazz community.

The show promises to be a rare experience. Jensen has worked with big band groups before, and Owen has been working on some of Jensen’s original recordings in order to come up with new versions for the performance.

Jazz is “always better to hear live,” Wilkins said, and because Jensen is known for her fresh and innovative style of taking improvisation to a higher level, the sound will be “magic, and unique to that night.”