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Jazz Trumpet Player
Ingrid Jensen of New York City

Ingrid Jensen Trumpet

Ingrid Jensen Trumpet Player

Jazz Trumpet Player Ingrid Jensen of New York City was born and raised in Cedar, Canada ... a bohemian community across the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver. Ingrid Jensen's high school emphasized the arts, especially music. All the music teachers in the district played jazz, and they organized a big band that played Thad Jones and Bob Brookmeyer charts at school concerts and swing dances on weekends.

Jazz Trumpet Player Ingrid Jensen's mother was a pianist who taught Kodaly music in the school. She also had a lot of private students and she played "club date" kind of things, solo piano gigs and musicals. She didn't improvise until she was in her 60s, shortly before she died. Ingrid's mom knew all of the standards. She had old lead sheets and tons of books filled with songs and lyrics all over Ingrid's house in Cedar, Canada. Ingrid learned to read by just looking at the melodies, watching her mother play and then matching up the notes with her fingers. Ingrid's mother started out as a classical musician. Her parents told her, "You can't make a living as a musician," so she had to have another job. She got her university degree to teach in the elementary schools, a decision that kept her fairly miserable and stressed out for years until she remarried. Ingrid's stepfather, Al, encouraged her mother to go back to school and get her degree in teaching Kodaly, so she could do something with music instead of teaching grade school kids. That was a great change for all of them! Ingrid's mom was much happier and was able to bring jazz into the schools, play the kids Ella Fitzgerald and all the stuff they needed to hear.

Al, Ingrid's stepfather, was hired as the principal of one of the elementary schools in their district. Ingrid's mom was not very happy that there were no elementary school band programs in the area, so she used her connections (her husband) to pull some strings in the school board and get things rolling. Being a professional player, she knew the importance of playing as soon as possible. Ingrid's mom just wanted to see and hear the children play too, she NEVER missed a band concert or fundraising event.

Ingrid's stepfather Al started band programs in all these schools. The girls were taught by a jazz saxophonist, by the name of Steve Jones. The Jensen sisters grew up in a household where their music teacher mother and elementary school principal stepfather refused to acknowledge any limitations on what girls could accomplish. "My mother was a very open spirit," Ingrid says. "She had a way of not allowing barriers into her home ... it just wasn't in her world. Her whole thing was, Treat people how you want to be treated. My teachers were incredibly giving and they were always taping music for us and showing us licks. We didn't do marching band. We just played jazz all the time. And there was a lot of encouragement from the community as well.

I did a lot of listening during those teenage years in Cedar. I had one of the first Walkmans, a horse and a bunch of great cassette tapes (mixes) that my band teacher had made for me with guys like Clark Terry and Freddie Hubbard on them. I'd go riding through the forest and along the beach listening to jazz. It was great! When I started playing, I actually wanted to be a trombone player. My parents had already decided with the band director that I was going to play the trumpet. My older sister played the trombone and we were fighting all the time, so there was no way we were going to have two trombones in the house! That would have been really bad. I'm left-handed so I started playing left-handed. That's where all my coordination was, my right hand was a disaster. My confidence was very bad for many years as a result. But I could hear what I wanted to play, so I was frustrated for quite a while. Fortunately, I also knew that if I could hear the music in my head and could sing what I wanted to play (I also played some piano, which helped) that the music was there. I started improvising right away in 7th grade. I had a good band director who taught us how to find the notes by ear. He'd put on a Jamey Abersold record and we'd play along. He'd tell us what notes to try out. In retrospect, finding out how to improvise really opened the door for me, as far as not having to be a flashy technical player goes. I'd play some rhythms, and play what was in my head, ideas that came from being exposed to hours of Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Oscar Peterson as I was growing up.

My parents were not too excited about my being a professional trumpet player, but by the time I graduated from high school music was the only thing I was interested in. I was fairly literate in English because my mother encouraged us to read a lot as kids. So she encouraged me to be an English teacher. And I thought, I don't want to do that, I'm not interested in anything but music. Almost everyone discouraged me ... my band teacher at the time, my parents, my grandparents. They were not excited about it because they'd never seen any women as a professional jazz trumpet player. One person who was pretty great to me during my early years in Nanaimo, Canada was jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall. She was only playing piano at the time and hadn't begun singing yet; her force on piano was astonishing to all of us.

Diana was always very positive to me, even though I was still in my early development phase musically. She never said, Oh, you're playing the trumpet? That's weird. It was more like, Yeah, that sounded great! You should play. Keep playing, don't stop. So I think that stuck in my mind, because she was such a powerful player and I had such respect for her. She was always working so hard at her music and was a constant inspiration through my early years. Diana took off to LA and studied with Ray Brown, Jimmie Rowles, got a record deal, and the rest is history. Now she's driving a Lexus on TV and married to Elvis Costello! She was my one main role model."

Trumpet Player Ingrid Jensen states, "I attended a local college for two years, practiced a bit, played gigs (which I'd been doing since I was 15 years old) around town, in Vancouver, Canada and different places on Vancouver Island. At one point, I got a scholarship to the Port Townsend Jazz Workshop, a camp that jazz trumpet player Bobby Shew and other great trumpet teachers were working at. Bobby had heard me play when I was in 10th grade, and he thought I was an old black man. He first heard me from the back of the stage and said, "Who's that old black man playing up there?" I was very embarrassed when he announced that in front of the entire band, later realizing that he was being positive and encouraging and not intending to embarrass me.

Bobby, and many of the festival adjudicators, were always very positive and encouraging to me in my early years. When I went to the Port Townsend Jazz Workshop, I met and hung out with many of my jazz idols like Phil Woods, Tom Harrell, Bobby Shew, Hal Galper, and many more ... making the jazz camp a pivotal experience for me. At the time, I had major doubts as to whether or not I was good enough or talented enough to really make it as a trumpet player. One day, I was playing at a jam session at the camp and somebody said, "Let's play rhythm changes." I had never played rhythm changes; at least I didn't think I had and was pretty sure I didn't know what they were. Someone said, "C'mon Ingrid, just play, close your eyes and listen." So I did. I closed my eyes and I listened really hard, played through the changes, and played what I was hearing. Then, I opened my eyes and the entire Phil Woods Quintet was standing there watching me and nodding their heads.

As the week went on I found myself playing with all of the best student players at the camp and I grew quickly as a result of being around them. Pianist Hal Galper pulled me aside and said, "You know, Ingrid, you should really take your trumpet studies further, go to the East Coast so you can get your education on a whole other level and be around a high level of both trumpet players and trumpet teachers." I thought he was crazy. I thought, "What's the matter with him? Doesn't he hear how bad I am?" Of course I was in awe of him and all the other greats at the camp. I knew their music and loved their personalities, and when they played it just freaked me out. For them to acknowledge me as someone who should potentially pursue what they were doing ... it was a pretty heavy thing. I definitely took it and ran with it. In many senses, they were right. They were hearing much more in my playing than I was hearing. They were hearing this deep influence of great music that my mother had surrounded me with and all these great band teachers had plugged me in to. I just wasn't hearing it because I was struggling."

Trumpet Player Ingrid Jensen went to Berklee School of Music in Boston on a whim. It was August, and by September she was enrolled and sleeping on a friend's cold, dorm room floor! Says Ingrid, "I had missed the housing deadline thanks to my last minute decision. I went to school there for three years and got my performance degree. Being Canadian, I needed a visa, so I had to really finish the requirements so that I could graduate. I didn't really want to graduate, because most of my friends that were players were like, You don't' really need to graduate from this, you just go play and meet people, and all the sudden these people are in Art Blakey's band, or Joe Henderson's band, or whoever. Back in the late 80s that was still possible. These days things have changed a bit.

One of my best friends there was pianist Danilo Perez. I saw saxophonist Donny McCaslin a lot and he was very nice to me. I got to play in saxophonist George Garzone's ensemble and trumpeter Herb Pomeroy's big band. I just met tons and tons of people who were exceptionally great to me. It was also an eye opening experience as far as how the music business works. I had no clue. I saw my peers getting record deals and getting whisked off to private lessons with people I idolized. I saw how things worked and found my way through it all.

The reality of today's world was abruptly thrown in my face when I finished school, because there were no real playing opportunities for me. Nothing. No gigs. No, Come on down here and play in this band. Which is kind of the way it works with music school. You don't get out and get a gig like a lawyer or doctor gets an internship. You have to create that yourself.

So I just took off to Denmark when I graduated from Berklee. I had an aunt in Denmark and I stayed at her house for a couple months and hung out with the musicians in Denmark. Bandleader Ernie Wilkins and a bunch of good people. I went to a record store every day and just sat there and listened to music with the guy who owned the store. I transcribed and practiced and sat in with the local guys, which was kind of a perfect experience after college. From then on, things just started rolling.

I moved to New York, played in the subways and got gigs with all-women bands. While playing gigs in New York City ... I played with a wise old drummer in the subways who used to play with Monk. He got on drugs, like many people did back in the 50s and was in rehab for awhile. His name was Eddie, he was about 65 years old. He'd be playing, and he'd yell out, Ingrid! Ingrid, watch the bucket! Ingrid get up on the bucket! It's not exactly what you're trained to do in college, but a pretty important lesson nonetheless! We made a lot of money ... thirty-five, forty dollars, sometimes a hundred as it varied.

Ingrid played with the same band for about a year. They played on the sidewalks, in Central Park and they would play from 10 a.m. until dark. They were playing music for long periods of time, sometimes six or seven hours! Recalls Ingrid, "You would play for an hour, take a break, play some more ... you're getting tired having played for several hours, but then people show up and you just keep playing. Sometimes we would end up playing for an hour and a half or two hours straight. I really, really learned a lot about pacing myself. It was great. Playing over loud noises like honking cars, subway screeching, people yelling, every city noise you can imagine.

Then, while living in New York in the 90s, Ingrid got a gig to play in Austria with the Vienna Art Orchestra. That happened via going to Berklee and then ending up in New York with one of her Berklee friends as a roommate. That got Ingrid back into Europe, but this time in a working situation. Ingrid auditioned for a teaching job and the teaching job landed her in Austria. Being in Austria landed Ingrid in a bunch of different music scenes that were really inspiring and great. Ingrid didn't speak any German and she was living alone and moving every couple of months because she couldn't get a place of her own because she wasn't Austrian. Ingrid spent two and a half years dealing with this teaching situation, which was making her old really fast, and traveling around a lot in Europe. But in the end, being there made one major break for Ingrid, which was when she sat in with trumpeter Clark Terry and vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. When Ingrid sat in with Clark Terry at the Village Vanguard in New York City he really took an interest in her. So did trombonist Al Grey. Whenever they were anywhere in Europe, within train distance, Clark would say, "You come on and sit in. Bring your horn." So Ingrid went and sat in with these guys in their eighties and nineties, and this little blond thing would bop onstage and play a chorus of the blues and everyone would go ... "Whoo!"

When Ingrid moved back to New York City in 1994, she was just getting ready to record her very first album for Enja. Ingrid never thought she'd be in the studio until her mid-forties, but she was 24 or 25 years old. Says Ingrid, "I was sitting there writing a tune and the phone rings and saxophonist Rick Margitza says, Maria (Schneider) wants you to come down and play in the band. Trumpeter Tim Hagans isn't going to be there tonight." I said, "When does it start?" He said, "Ten minutes ago." I said, "Aaaahh!" I had been checking out Maria's band. In fact, the very first time I walked into the club and heard The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra play, I said to myself, "I'm going to play with this band. I'm going to be playing in that trumpet section. I don't know how, I don't know when, but I will." "I immediately identified with her music and the sensitivity and the depth and all the elements of her greatness. I wanted to know more." From then on out, Maria Schneider kept calling Ingrid to sub. Says Ingrid, "We've become very good friends. She encouraged me to write more and to trust my own instincts, which was great, because I wasn't writing that much before. To play the trumpet well, you have to practice all the time, so it's a big juggling act between composition and shedding with the horn. I don't think my writing sounds like her, because she has inspired me to be myself."

On Practicing, Ingrid states, "One of the things I love about the trumpet, is that it really challenges me to stay in shape. The more I work out and the better I take care of myself physically, the better I play. I've put in a lot of time on my trumpet playing long tones, working on my sound, and listening to the music and playing with it. Not just flipping from one record to the next, but focusing on one player or one album at a time while listening and practicing. Try to find other focus outside of jazz. Maybe focus on trumpet technique or try writing. Writing is a great way to find a voice. Try to focus on a project and put a lot of time into the concept. There is a lot of information out there. Focus. Spend six months or a year really checking something out. But really give it your all. If you get really good at something it will transfer over to other things. Constantly try to deepen your listening experience and you will get ideas that become your version of something else. For instance, Warne Marsh and George Garzone have influenced Mark Turner. Spend time with the whole boxed set of jazz. Get a vibe for it and from it. Learn tunes by ear. Make the best use of your time ... learn tunes by ear. Try sonic exploration of sounds. Learn tunes one chord at a time. Hold the chord and play over the sound. Hear, instead of Read. Listen to how others play. Then let it go and just play! Play slowly and in TIME. Add sweat and intensity to your music!" Ingrid Jensen's three CD's for the ENJA label and her CD, "At Sea," won her nominations from the Canadian Juno Awards, including an award in 1995 for Vernal Fields.

Her performances as a leader and as a featured soloist have taken her around the world from Canada to Japan, Australia, South America, South Africa, the Caribbean and to almost every country in Europe and Scandinavia.

Ingrid Jensen can be heard with the Grammy winning Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, the Ingrid Jensen Quartet with Geoffrey Keezer, Project O, Nordic Connect and a number of New York based bands. She has received rave reviews and a strong reputation among critics and peers. In 2003, Ingrid was nominated, for the second time, alongside trumpeter Dave Douglas for a Jazz Journalist Association Award in New York and is seen yearly in the top five of the Downbeat Critic polls in the Talent deserving wider recognition category.

Ingrid was featured on Gil Evans' Porgy and Bess at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, under the direction of Maria Schneider and was also a guest in the festival's "Tribute to Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard," alongside Terence Blanchard, Eddie Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson and Kenny Garrett. Some of the many musicians she has performed and or recorded with include; Steve Wilson, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Dr.Lonnie Smith, Marc Copland, Bob Berg, Gary Thomas, Gary Bartz, Jeff Hamilton, Bill Stewart, Terri-Lynn Carrington, Geri Allen, Geoffrey Keezer, Billy Hart, George Garzone, Chris Connor, Victor Lewis, Clark Terry, Frank Wess, Badal Roy, Mike Clark, Jason Miles and Global Noize, Dr.Billy Taylor and the DIVA Big Band. She also performed on Saturday Night Live with the British soul star Corrine Bailey. Ingrid was also a featured soloist with singer Madelaine Peyroux as part of a Tribute to Billy Holiday project in Brazil which included bass legend Ron Carter and piano virtuoso, Mulgrew Miller.

Ingrid was on staff at the Port Townsend Centrum Jazz Workshop for five consecutive years and from 1990 until 1992 held the professor of Jazz Trumpet chair at the Bruckner Conservatory of Music in Austria. Currently, she is an artist-in-residence on the trumpet faculty at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Ingrid continues to fill her schedule with an astonishing array of artistic creativity as a performer and educator. In addition to performing, she conducts master classes, clinics, and workshops around the world

Ingrid's mouthpieces include a Monette Prana IJ V1 (81 back-bore and 13 throat); Monette Prana Botti 6S (81 back-bore and 13 throat) and a Rashawn. Ingrid's new trumpet is a Monette PRANA XLTJ STC built by Dave Monette especially for her. It is a very light Monette trumpet and about the same weight as Dave Monette's original MF PRANA Bb trumpet. It has a 5.25 inch bell flare with an unusually wide bell throat. The large bell throat helps give the horn a huge, broad sound with an unusually wide range of timbre and dynamics. It has Maynard's bell construction to keep the upper register and double C range easy, with a sizzling sound when you lay into it.

Says Ingrid, "I am still in the learning process with the Monette and it's been the greatest "trumpet" year of my life. It all began with the mouthpiece change. Dave sent me a bunch of Monette mouthpieces to try (by mail) and I freaked out a bit, because I couldn't play any of them. MY BAD. I had no idea that the mouthpiece I was playing on was way too small and out of tune stuff (old NY Bach 7CW.) It was not until I went to the shop and he slapped a complete opposite on my Bach that I realized how off I was in my mouthpiece choices. The Botti it was called. HUGE, in relation to what I normally played on. Thanks to Dave's highly logical posture advice (still working on that too) my voice opened up like wildfire. Slotting, tuning, etc ... night and day difference. (note - the two Grammy nominated discs I'm playing on this year are on Monette mouthpieces ... Darcy James Argue and Denise Donatelli). I'm currently hanging with Adam Rapa and getting more of an idea how to "really" play the horn. It's been great. I'm now down to three mouthpieces, a mid-size B2S all round one (which I generally shed and play the most on), a flumpet piece (sorry Quesnon - it's the closet for you) which is just beautiful, warm, fuzzy, but can still pop ... and the fun one - the Rashawn. That one is taking me a little longer to commit too, but I want to eventually just use it as my main piece. I played some lead over the summer on it, and it was just the most fun ever! I've been using it more and more in section playing and once in awhile while blowing. I need to do some more sessions (private jams) to get more comfortable on it but as shallow as it seems, it actually gets very dark and round over my entire range. I plan to record in the fall so anyone interested, keep an eye on my website ... will work on THAT monster over Christmas.

To contact Ingrid Jensen for clincis, concerts or to purchase her recordings ... you can visit her website

Ingrid Jensen's Monette Trumpet
Ingrid Jensen's Monette Trumpet

Ingrid Jensen at CD Universe

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