Way Beyond Good
Bruce Von Stiers
Mary Jenson was an Air Force brat until about age nine. Then her family settled down in California and eventually moved to Las Vegas . Mary studied music at UNLV but decided that she needed more. That urge led to a career in radio where Mary was an on-the-air personality who was able to choose her own playlists.
But as things might have it, life didn't quite turn out as Mary had planned. She left the world of radio and ended up in the Napa Valley region. There she had a career in the financial industry and raised a family. But music was forgotten as a dream or desire.
Now a few years later, Mary has decided that the world needs to hear her voice. So she has recorded an album that is titled Beyond. Aptly titled, it features songs of falling down and of soaring far above your wildest expectations.
The album was produced by Frank Martin who also played the keys, Rhodes and piano on the album. The album was recorded in part at Skywalker Studios.
Several very good musicians helped out on the album. There was Alex Acuna on percussion and Will Kennedy on drums. Mads Tolling played the violin and Erik Jekabson played both the flugelhorn and the trumpet. Wayne Wallace was on trombone and Jeff Chambers was on acoustic bass for one song. For another acoustic bass player there was Ralphe Armstrong who also did the fretless bass for a few songs. Troy Lampkin was on electric bass for a few songs. And Jose Pires de Almeda Neto played the acoustic and electric guitar along with the guitar sitar. Backing vocals were performed by Claytoven Richardson, Sandy Griffith and Crystal Monee Hall.
Mary tackles a great Tom Waits song for opening the album. Temptation has fluid, sometimes seductive vocals.
Say My Name was written by Mary and Frank Martin. Nice guitar and bass back a nice mellow, lyrical vocal track.
One of my favorite Beatles songs is Come Together. Mary has a whole different take on the song for this album. It has a slick, mellow jazz jam beat. Although most songs that are done like this fall flat, Mary did an excellent job with it. Doing a complete makeover of this classic song reminded of how well it could be done. Kelly Sweet put her own ethereal spin on Aerosmith's Dream On, really owning it. Mary did the same thing for a great changeup of this song.
The title track Beyond begins with a mystical, Mediterranean kind of soundtrack. A bit harsher at first, the song moves into a moderate pace with nice vocals.
Flying, Falling is soft, gentle with almost aching vocals.
Mary does a nice job with the Stevie Wonder song, Too High. She treats as a moderate jazz groove. Darian Gray provides a rap for this song.
Once again taking a classic song and changing it up a bit, Mary serves up a nice rendition of the Joni Mitchell tune, Moon At The Window.
Then there is the sultry Barbara Highbie song Anouman.
That is followed up by the light head bopping song The Lamp Is Low.
Kicking things back old school there is a terrific horn intro for Orange Blossoms In Summertime. The trumpet music is great throughout the song. This is a sweet and easy song that Mary does wonderfully. There is great piano music in the song as well.
The album ends with Things My Mother Said. Strong, solid bass backs sing-song lyrics that are sure to put a smile on your face. The lyrics contain admonishments that I'm sure most of us have heard our mothers say to us.
Mary Jenson may have waited a long time to bring her music to the public. But bring it she definitely does. Her vocals are exquisite and the songs reflect her personal journey as much as if she'd written it out in a journal. I don't know how far Mary wants to go with her music but I'm sure that someday soon she will be the talk of the jazz world.
Beyond can be found at CD Baby, amazon.com and a host of other online and traditional music retailers.
You will find Mary's web site at http://www.maryjenson.com/ You can also find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Jenson-Beyond/138332586224384
© 2011 Bruce E Von Stiers