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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

ALL About Vocals

ALL About Vocals

Mary Jenson

Written By: Editor - Nov• 29•11

Mary Jenson, Beyond
by:  Constance Tucker

Mary Jenson comes from a background of diversity, which lends itself to the explorative side of jazz.  Growing up as military child, which afforded her the opportunity to live in several locations, along with college studies at UNLV and experience behind a microphone at KFMB as a DJ along with a career in the financial industry which gave Jenson the ability to obtain success.  Through her career accomplishment she was able to understand what it took to be highly successful.  After an early retirement due to her successes in her business career, Jenson got back to basics and became solely focusing on her music career.  Her sophomore release Beyond, is a jazz/world/pop fusion features 4 originals, 4 covers of contemporary pop songs and 3 jazz standards.

Kicking off the festivities is a Tom Waits classic “Temptation,” previously covered by Diana Krall, Jenson thankfully gives this song with many possibilities a new shine.  Jenson’s ethereal and spacious version has the passion of Krall’s rendition, but she takes it far enough away from Waits version to actually make this cover unique and her own.

“Come Together,” best known and penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Jenson gives this cut a grooving vibe that is reminiscent of Steve Miller’s “Joker” it is hip, cool and has a dab of Indian flavor. Continuing the eastern motif “Beyond” the title cut is riveting and draws the listener in with Jenson’s convincing vocal stylings.  Jenson has a true and pure instrument and she uses it to convey compelling lyrics and inflections to convince the listener of every note.

“Anouman” is an embracing melody, one of Django’s last compositions. He recorded “Anouman” in January 1953.  Jenson offers a compelling rendition; her vocals soar and are tender yet convincing.  Reaching into her low tones, while creating breathy clarity, the listener cannot help but be infatuated with Jenson immediately.

Closing the disc is a fun ditty entitled; “Things My Mother Said” written by Frank Martin and Mary Jenson. The reminding theme throughout the cut is ‘Don’t Dish It out If You Can’t Take It’ well thank goodness Jenson is up for the job and delivers it with sincerity and technical prowess.

Beyond is an album filled with artistry and strong performances. An inspiring offering by a talented and limitless vocalist, Jenson has put together not only a journey beyond the ordinary, but a measure of what all vocalists should aspire to, worth the listen, and certainly worth the buy.

EJAZZ News

Mary Jenson, Beyond – CD Review

Nov 3rd, 2011

Mary Jenson, Beyond
Self-Released 2011
by: Geannine Reid

Growing up on an Air Force base, certainly created a strong basis for discipline and commitment, the military life afforded Jenson the opportunity to live in various states throughout her upbringing with her beginnings in formal studies at UNLV. Her experiences included being a radio disc jockey at KFMB and a full career in the financial industry.

Happily, Mary was able to leave her business career behind and begin to focus on music once again. Old dreams resurfaced and Mary began to study music and begin performing again. Attending Napa Valley College, Jazz Camp West and The Jazz School in Berkeley, Mary focused on bringing her voice back into shape and her musicianship skills up to snuff. 8 years later Mary has just released her second CD, Beyond, a jazz/world/pop fusion including 4 originals, 4 covers of contemporary pop songs and 3 jazz standards.

“Say My Name,” has a dreamlike quality with Latin-tinged flavors. Jenson’s mezza-soprano voice is cool and airy and floats across the fabric of well placed musical punctuations. “Come Together,” best known and penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, has a pulsing beat with an undercurrent of percussion and Indian flavors.

“Flying, Falling” gives the listener a chance to hear Jenson in a torch setting. Her tender and breathy voice is sensual and the lyric drips from her lips like honey. “Moon at the Window” a Joni Mitchell tune is given a convincing reading and the ensemble aptly cradles Jenson is a lush accompaniment fashion.
Closing the disc is “Things My Mother Said” reminded me of an album by another Newcomer – Carrie Newcomer that is; and her song “My Momma Said Its True” also filled with pearls of wisdom and inventive sayings.
Beyond is an album based in world idioms and cross bread with contemporary jazz ideas. Jenson has put together not only a pleasing listen, but truly a wonderful journey of songs that takes the listener to places in their mind and memory that evoke pleasing experiences. Truly not like any other vocal jazz album I have heard in 2011 – this is truly an embodiment of work that need to be added to any collection that features jazz and world recordings.

Jazz Times

CD Review: Mary Jenson - Beyond

by:  Wilbert Sostre   

For her second album Beyond, singer/composer Mary Jenson reunited a great group of musicians. Percussionist Alex Acuña and Grammy nominated trombonist Wayne Wallace accompanied Jenson in this music voyage of four originals, four pop covers and three jazz standards.

Acuña along with bassist Troy Lampkins and drummer Will Kennedy lay down a superb rhythm foundation for Mary Jenson’s powerful interpretation of Tom Waits "Temptation". Most jazz listeners will remember this song for the Diana Krall version recorded in her 2004 album The Girl in the Other Room.

Two of Jenson originals "Say My Name," "Flying, Falling," Joni Mitchell's "Moon at the Window" and The Beatles "Come Together" has elements of smooth jazz.

José Neto plays the sitar on another Jenson original, "Beyond", the lyrics on this one has a nice message of unity and an Arabian influence in the melodies.

Jenson’s always versatile and soulful voice is equally comfortable singing ballads like Django Reindhart's “Anouman”, funk tracks like "Too High" or Bossa Nova influenced arrangements like "The Lamp is Low". Darian Gray does the rapping in the funky Stevie Wonders "Too High".

Two of the highlights on Beyond is the wonderful version of Kurt Elling's "Orange Blossoms in Summertime" and the fun lyrics on Jenson’s original "Things My Mother Said".

THE BORDERLAND (musicwatch column)

THE BORDERLAND (musicwatch column)

by:  John M. Peters

Mary Jenson, Beyond

Dreams are a funny thing - when I wake up I can never recall what imaginary dreamland I had been inhabiting that night while asleep  [well, apart from that one about Cameron Diaz and the Cornish pasty... don't ask!] 
But for Mary Jenson dreams are a vivid experience that remain long enough to re-experience in her waking state. And that is the theme of this album, Beyond - dreams and the human emotions and experiences they bring. 

Eleven tracks, some self-composed and the rest covers of classic pop and soul classics. Ms Jenson's own songs are Say My Name, Beyond, Flying Falling, Things My Mother Said. Among the covers are: Temptation [Tom Waits], Come Together [Lennon & McCartney], Too High [Stevie Wonder], Moon At The Window [Joni Mitchell], Anouman [Django Reinhart].

A fusion of Jazz and elements of World music, Beyond has a big sound thanks to the extensive list of musicians listed on the cover - far too many to mention in the space here, but these musicians bring much to the album, a diverse range of musical styles and some electric performances. And floating on top of or riding the crest of the music is Ms Jenson and her mellifluous voice. It really is a wonderful thing - light and floaty one moment and then bluesy the next. 

Beyond is poppy enough enjoy without having to like Jazz, it is easy on the ear and a very approachable album.

Talkin' Broadway

MARY JENSON~ BEYOND 

Come share a pillow with Mary Jenson. Her second album states its purpose as exploring the dream state. Based in California, this singer, who's performed at various venues there, including Yoshi's, is beyond intriguing on Beyond. She is accessible and yet mysterious, direct and yet elusive. Her website characterizes her sound as "jazz/world/fusion," and it's full of unexpected depths, whether she's singing originals or a standard or pop song. She was a disc jockey for a while and seems comfortable in various genres, but with a mention of dreams in the lyric being the magnet for this theme album that doesn't go for the obvious choices of songs with the word "dream" in the title.

Although there is an ethereal quality to the proceedings, the fact that Mary has a notably clear sound to her voice works toward preventing overkill that a whispery, wispier sound would encourage. And she sounds involved or focused, with the accompaniment having some grooving energy, generally avoiding any New Age affectations or drowning in musical mush. But when she and her musicians of impressive credentials choose to indulge in moody, drifting, smoke-rings sensibilities, the ambiance can be invoked and poured on. Not "commercial" or obviously gimmicky, the tracks don't grab you by the collar and shake you, but rather sweep over you like waves or seduce in a subtle way. A sitar here, a haunting echo there, a floating figure of sound, poetic images ... some tracks, like the title number she wrote herself, use some of these elements but then anchor things with a determined approach to the vocal and some more traditional repetition of simpler, terser lyrics ("Brother of mine/ Stand with me/ Eye to eye/ We are free ..."). Another original, "Flying, Falling" is the quintessential expression of the album's intended "purple glow" and "cloudless atmosphere" as singing, song and delicate piano work by Frank Martin elegantly and mesmerizingly recall the common dream of weightlessness of some kind. The talented Mr. Martin collaborates on two songs: "Say My Name," about being blissfully "lost" in love, and an album-ending change of pace called "Things My Mother Said." Its lyric is a litany of adages and advice, nags and nudges many a Mom muttered (maybe yours). It's the shortest track on an 11-song album where all the others are over four minutes long, often way longer.

The old standard based on a classical piece, "The Lamp Is Low," is a welcome representation of that genre, with its lyric's opening invitation, "Dream beside me ..." a natural fit. It's sung with a snuggly, warm manner. Non-self-consciously rewarding re-shapings of songs from singer-songwriters Tom Waits ("Temptation") and Joni Mitchell ("Moon at the Window"), Mary Jenson might have some chameleon characteristics. Her page from the Beatles' songbook is a more assertive, mid-tempo, driving "Come Together" with its barrage of words spun out with abandon. Stevie Wonder's "Too High" is a bit jarring in parts, with the sudden appearance of a bit of rap by Darian Gray; for this rap-allergic listener, it's like a brief nightmare in an otherwise heavenly series of sweet—but hardly mindlessly vapid—dreams. I find myself rather addicted to this album late nights and daytime.

 

Midwest Records

Her business career and raising youngsters seems to be getting smaller in Jenson’s rear view mirror with every successive outing.  Widening the lens to make more of an art recording, Jenson has enlisted some real hitters to back her up and make this an ear opening experience.  Often hinging on lite head music, this is some performance work, some art, some loft jazz and a nice mix of all of it.  You can almost hear this being the genesis of divorcee jazz as cutting loose vibes run throughout it.  Not exactly girl friend music but a pretty wild ride anyone with open ears will dig.

This is Books Music

 

It didn’t seem that long ago that I had reviewed Mary Jenson, in fact I still have her CD very close by as I still play it from time to time. When this CD arrived, I wasn’t aware that this was the same lady I had reviewed about 22 months ago until I saw the biography and said “wait, that’s her?” However, that was two years ago and I guess because Jenson’s music has always been close, it just surprised me. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant surprise and I eagerly put this into the player.

Beyond (self-released) has a much greater pop sheen than her last album, but it’s one that works perfectly with her voice and range. I am reminded of the great soul and pop albums of the 70′s and 80′s that I would hear on a regular basis, either from my parents or relatives, and this is that kind of album that feels “at home”, if that makes sense. In other words, Jenson is a vocalist who is able to cover a wide range of styles and she shows this in great tracks like “Say Your Name”, “Flying, Falling”, and “Things My Mother Said”, each of which would sound quite well in radio rotation, or in television shows and films, or of course on stage. I am someone who does single out cover versions, but these songs show what Jenson is able to do with her songwriting talents, and I like it because it allows me to be more in tune with who she is.

Her cover of The Beatles‘ “Come Together” immediately brings to mind Nikka Costa and Norah Jones. In a song that is generally gibberish that leads to sexual innuendo, either artists pull this song off beautifully or come off awkward. Jenson is able to add her own finesse to it and make each line a lure to the inevitable moral. The guitar work from Jose Pires de Almeida Neto is also quite nice too and compliments Jenson’s approach. The song ends with a slight Latin touch, as if throughout the entire song she walks on a leisurely pace to a beach with the sun setting and now it’s time for everyone to come together.

The title track has an Indian influence, where Jenson starts to sing about wanting and demanding better than what exists in the world. Or perhaps it’s a more metaphysical way of saying “let’s look forward to better tomorrows”.

Beyond is the album I had hoped to hear from her when I reviewed Close Your Eyes in 2009, and here it is. To make a long story short, I like it when someone who has a good voice is able to push themselves with the type of material they write, perform, and cover. I also hope that with this album she may be able to do a lot of background work for others, as it would be a greater pathway to her own music, which I hope to hear more of throughout this decade.