INTERVIEWS JILL JENSON
GOT THE MUSIC IN ME
JENSON TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
GETTING BACK INTO THE GAME
HER DEBUT CD
BY BRIAN LUSH
isn't your typical recording artist profile. Music is what JILL
JENSON had sought to do all of her life, but after studying music at
the UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, JILL became a disc jockey and did some part
time work to supplement her income. Eventually, The part time job
became a 13 year career as a senior executive / consultant at
WIRELESS and MICROSOFT. She returned tot he world of music, simply by
looking up an old college chum (TIM CASHION) and the two began making
music together. In the process, JILL quit the day gig, lost 100 plus
pounds and never looked back.
the release of her self titled debut CD JILL JENSON all
years of losing herself in corporate America are over and a
stunning artist with a solid collection of songs is shining brightly
for the first time.
scheduling of this interview was troubled. The night the interview
was originally scheduled, JILL rushed to the hospital fearing she had
broken her arm in a fall. Obviously we needed to reschedule. The
second time, both of us were waiting by the phone for someone to
call. I never read the forwarded messages on an e-mail sent me by her
publicist which had asked me to call JILL in Seattle.
the interview happened and there were no mix ups. Here is how it
you aware that there are two JILL JENSONS/JENSENS out there and both
of you are jazz singers?
am aware. If you got to the -EN spelling of JENSON on the inter-net
you get the best jazz singer in Wisconsin
almost researched the wrong person. That would've been
It would've been interesting though.
grew up in the Northwest. Where exactly?
of Portland Oregon in a town called Milwaukee
did it all begin for you? Music, I mean?
As a kid I was
a ham. So I was always singing, goofing around and stuff like that.
Coming up through school, I started getting interested in music, I
played the guitar and I had a cousin who sang in the jazz group in
high school so when I got into junior high he kinda turned me on to
things like MANHATTAN TRANSFER and ELLA FITZGERALD and I found myself
going in that direction. On through high school and up through
college, I went to the UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI which is a big music
school which is where I met a lot of folks who are now in the music
business. From there, after I graduated, I went to work as a
disc jockey at a jazz radio station in Portland and that was
where music sort of ended for me because I got a job to supplement my
income as a disc jockey and ti turned out to be a full time job that
lasted for the next 13 years.
attended a vocal jazz studio program in Miami. What was that like?
was amazing because it was a really focused program on Jazz vocal. It
was a double program. It was studio music/vocal jazz program which
you can actually get a bachelors and a masters in. You study all of
the traditional jazz curriculum along with the instrumental jazz
majors and then you study what it's like to be a studio singer so you
spend a lot of time the studio, do alot of jingles and you learn to
cite read on the spot and become a studio musician. I've met a lot of
folks there who went on to become professional musicians and I'm one
of the only ones who didn't.
your experience in radio like?
It was wonderful. It was
a jazz radio station and my position there was chief announcer. Most
of the air staff were volunteers. It's an NPR affiliate and my job
was to bring in announcers, train them, teach them how to
program the music; that's another great thing about this station,
they actually let the disc jockeys program their own music, and
another part of my job was to teach them about jazz and teach them
how to program music that flows into each other and make a show. I
also got all of the fun stuff that comes with being an on-air person
with a radio station. You get to go to all these concerts and you get
to interview all of your idols. That was all of the great stuff, but
it doesn't really pay the bills which is why i had to get the other
work. Anything that we'd be familiar with?
Most of the voice-over stuff had been industrials. It's all for big
companies for things like internal training or phone systems. The
biggest jingle that I ever did was when I was in Miami. JOE NAMATH
and I did a commercial for the race track for the dog races. I didn't
get to meet JOE, he came and did his part as I was leaving. So that
was my big studio gig.
voice-over gig was a sleep apnea study for ST. JOSEPH's. You've also
done some session work as a vocalist in the past. Did you record for
anyone in particular?
Not really. It was a lot of
jingles and mostly regional stuff and we're talking 15 to 20 years
was it like
being away from
music for so long?
didn't realize how much I missed it. I was so caught up in having
this career and the day to day issues of a big company and you kind
of forget about the rest of your life. Being reunited with TIM
CASHION who was a friend of mine from college and who has been a
professional musician all of these years reminded me that making
music was what I wanted to do originally. So he's the one who gave me
that push to go back to it.
did you set out to do? Was music your goal as a kid?
was more of a traditional jazz singer and I always envisioned myself
playing clubs, doing some recording and I loved being the studio. I
always wanted to be a studio singer. That was my big aspiration.
mentioned ELLA FITZGERALD and MANHATTAN TRANSFER. Are there any other
artists that have made an impact on you and rocked your world so to
the early days, BARBARA STREISAND rocked my world when I was in the
second, third of fourth grade and I sang along with her everyday and
I've got some really embarassing recordings to go along with that. As
I got older I got into all of the real traditional jazz folk like
ELLA FITZGERALD or SARAH VAUGHN and instrumentalists like MILES
DAVIS. I like a lot of different things and I'm sure that everybody
says that. The music on this CD is heavily influenced by STEVIE
WONDER, STEELY DAN and EARTH WIND AND FIRE.
said earlier and it's also stated in your press release that were
reunited with TIM CASHION(songwriter and producer for JILL
How did that happen is there a story to it?
is. TIM and I lived next door to each other in the dorm at the
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI. We were in the jazz program together and after
school, I saw him on and off when he was on the road with ROBERT
PALMER and BOB SEGER or whomever. He call me and say “Hey,
coming into town!” and I would see him. I hadn't seen him for
or nine years since the last time he was on tour with ROBERT PALMER.
I was coming up on a big high school reunion and had gotten a notice
about that and started thinking, “Who else have I lost touch
So I did a search for TIM on the inter-net and found that he was
touring with GRAND FUNK RAILROAD. So I sent the web master an e-mail
and got a call from TIM the next day and they were in Idaho and were
on their way to Washington state the next week. Two or three days
before I was gonna call and tell him that I couldn't see him and that
I was busy because I was kind of feeling embarrassed and not too
excited to see someone and tell them “hey, I ended up with
exciting corporate job and I'm not in Music?” Then I got to
thinking”Wow, what kind of a life am I living if I'm too
embarrassed to see someone who means so much to me?” It took
back and started thinking about my life and what I was doing and
after that I made some huge changes. I left my job, I decided to go
back into music and I lost 130 pounds. And while it wasn't
necessarily about Tim, he was that catalyst. So I saw him at the
show, met the band and over the next year would go out and meet TIM
on the road and just kind of got back into the music thing and
realized that after seeing him do it, that I wanted to give it a
shot. This was the time. There must be a reason because I don't
believe in coincidence, why I met up with him and he happened to be
coming out on the road in the next week. Thats the story of how we
reunited and started talking about doing a project together.
was decided between the two of you. What did you want to do
musically? What was the plan?
really wasn't a specific plan. We just decided that we were going to
try and do some recording and see what would happen. When I showed up
at his studio in Charlotte in January of 2004, he had a couple of
songs, one was the cover tune CRYSTAL BLUE PERSUASION and another was
a song he wrote called SUNSHINE AWAY. He got me in the studio and I
didn't know the songs ahead of time so I learned them as we recorded
them and that was the way we did most of the record. It's a
different way to record because most times you would know the song
inside and out and have sung it millions of times and have planned
out for the most part what you're going to do. So we approached this
project differently. Usually I'd walk in the studio and learn the
song as we recorded it, then we would comp together the best takes of
my learning session and use that to sort of learn the song while I
was out in North Carolina and we'd record it again. We may or may not
work on that song again. The vocals may have come out great and we'd
leave them alone or we may record it again after we lay down the rest
of the musicians playing on the record. TIM would normally record all
the bass tracks so I'd be singing to just sort of basic rhythm
section tracks when I record the first time. So, in the at first
session we saw the direction where were going to go which is this
sort of Contemporary jazz/adult pop sound.
there been any live performances of this new material?
forward to it?
much so. Yes
you think that you're back for good this time?
going to do my darndest. I may have to do other things along the way
to support my habit as it were. I can't imagine letting myself get
caught up in that whole corporate thing again. I just don't have an
interest in doing it so if I can avoid it, I will.
do you want the listener to walk away with after hearing this CD?
guess, I'm hoping that they can appreciate the musicianship thats on
it. There are some great players on this record and some great
solos. The two covers on this CD CRYSTAL BLUE PERSUASION and THATS
THE WAY OF THE WORLD are songs people are familiar with and can
relate to. The other songs on this CD are not your typical love
songs. They're more about peace and the state of the world. I'm
hoping one those things strikes a chord with the listener.