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Jazz at a Glance
Volume 86

Featured Artist: Jill Jensen

CD Title: Seems Like Dreams

Year: 2000

Record Label: Frozen Sky Records

Style: Jazz Vocals

Musicians: Jill Jensen (vocal), Jack Grassel (guitar), Rick Embach (vibes), Marlene Rosenberg (bass), Ernie Adams (drums).

Review: Jill Jensen is well known to the citizens of Racine, WI where, for 10 years, she has appeared as a TV spokesperson for one of Racine's most successful automobile dealers. She has also gained fame locally as an actress and through singing engagements with her husband, guitarist Jack Grassel.

Although Jill doesn't mention any prime influences, I detect touches of such stars as Jeri Southern, Chris Connor and Peggy Lee. Ms. Jensen is smooth and confident when working with this fabulous quartet. As a first time listener to Jensen's work, I could not avoid feeling the "smile" in her vocal delivery. Stage presence will never be a problem for this newcomer to the jazz scene.

Guitarist Jack Grassel truly deserves equal billing with the singer. Together, they have chosen first class material from the likes of Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Gus Kahn, Isham Jones and Hoagy Carmichael. Jack is an exceptional jazz musician who plays in a straight ahead style and has been ranked among the "Top 10" guitarists by "Guitar Now" magazine. He also writes a column for "Just Jazz Guitar".

Grassel carefully selected some of Chicago's best jazz performers for this session and the result is wonderful. The tunes include Where or When, Skylark, I'm All Smiles, Witchcraft, You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, and a "knockout" version of It Had to Be You. Add a wildly seductive rendition of "One For My Baby" and this CD is a most satisfying listening experience.

"Seems Like Dreams" deserves top marks for originality and musicianship. Special mention must be made with regard to the superlative bass playing of Marlene Rosenberg.

Reviewed by: Richard Boucier


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