Frozen Sky Records is proud to announce the release of It's About the Music, the second CD featuring jazz vocalist Jill Jensen and guitarist Jack Grassel. The Wisconsin married couple collaborated six years on the project. In addition to producing and performing on the CD, Jack composed four new songs and created fresh arrangements to lovingly showcase Jill's diverse vocal skills. The twelve song collection artistically mixes Big and small band settings loaded with exciting jazz solos. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra principle players string quintet accompanies Jill on the Horace Silver song, "Lonely Woman", custom arranged by Steve Peplin. Legendary arranger Walt Stuart created three Big Band charts exclusively for Jill. Jill sings in Spanish on one song "Isla Mujeres", composed and performed by Argentine virtuoso guitarist Guillermo Espinasse, and recorded in Cancun, Mexico at Machine Head Studio. Other recording sessions took place in: Brookfield, WI at Public Record; Racine, WI at Andrews Brothers Recording; and in New Berlin, WI at DNA Digital Systems where the CD was also mixed and mastered. The CD design is by The Weber Group, Inc. of Racine, WI, with photography by Keith Watling and Sue Ruggles.
The twenty-four musicians listed below, who contributed their highly skilled talents to the CD, reads as a "Who's Who" of the Midwest's most accomplished. Included is nationally acclaimed Howard Levy on harmonica,(founding Member of Bella Fleck and the Flecktones), seven time Grammy Award-winning drummer Paul Wertico, and Dane Richeson, recognized as one of the most versatile virtuosi in percussion.
Jill Jensen - Voice on all Songs, Jack Grassel - guitars,
Frank Almond - violin, Claude Calliet - trombone, Steve Ceopus - organ, Pat Crawford - bass flute, Rick Embach - vibraphone, Guillermo Espinasse - guitar, John Hibler - saxophones, Dean Lee - piano, Howard Levy - harmonica, Tom McGirr - bass, Joan Miranda - viola, Ann Morse-Hambrock -harp, Mike Murphy - drums, Luis Navarro Lopez - bass, Steve Peplin - arranger, Jeff Pietrangelo - trumpet, John Price - bass, Dane Richeson - drums, Roger Ruggieri - bass viol, Singers from Tblisi, Georgia, Kim Scholes - cello,Walt Stuart- arranger, Rip Tenor - saxophone, Paul Wertico - drums, Jean Yi Kim - violin
It's About the Music was almost never heard. In March of 2004, Jack was stricken with heart infection and toxic shock. Jill was told he had a "10-20% chance" to live. Jack beat the odds to miraculously survive, but production stalled for two years while he struggled to regain health. The Milwaukee music community rallied to give a special concert, which eased their burden of huge medical bills. The couple credit the CD's completion to the outpouring of spiritual support from fellow musicians, family and fans. Although Jack is not fully recovered, he and Jill consider the release of It's About the Music a triumphant finale to that difficult period. Always a surefire crowd pleaser at any occasion, Jill and Jack are in demand as a duo or mall ensemble as well as Big Band. The duo sizzles onstage.
Jill Jensen grew up singing in a home where the music of choice was swing era and jazz standards. She is well known in southeastern Wisconsin as a vocalist, actress and television spokesperson with a smooth confident stage presence and a 'smile' in her vocal delivery. A fan says her voice is "Victoria's Secret for the ears." Jill gained musical fame through singing engagements with numerous bands and shows, most notably since 1998 with her world-renowned husband, Jack Grassel. Jack produced her first CD, "Seems Like Dreams" in 2000. Just Jazz Guitar magazine wrote: 'Jensen's voice is strong and self- assured... Grassel's overall skill and musical approach are the perfect compliment to Jensen's smooth and confident vocal styling and phrasing.' Dave Luhrssen of The Shepherd Express said: 'Jill's expressive voice sparkles with the sheer delight of singing as she wraps around lyrics and their emotional implications. Blended with Jack's stunning command of the guitar, they perform music that speaks in an easily understood and enjoyable dialect."
Jack Grassel was voted one of the "Ten Best in the U.S..." by Guitar One magazine, March 2000. "Upon hearing him seamlessly weave bass lines, rhythm chords, and melody lines - all at the same time - as well as noting his incredible command of the instrument, we knew he was a shoe-in. Simply put, he sounds like no other guitarist." He is a winner of six W.A.M.I. (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) Awards as Guitarist or Jazz Artist of the Year. For decades, guitarists all over the world have studied his many books, columns, compositions and recordings. Jack is known for his invention "The Superguitar," on which he plays bass and guitar simultaneously. He enjoyed the personal tutorage of his mentors, Tal Farlow and George Van Eps, which helped father his unique style. He has accompanied the biggest names in entertainment. A short list includes: Luciano Pavarotti, Rosemary Clooney, Nancy Wilson, John B. Williams, Roy McCurdy, Frankie Laine, Maureen McGovern, Cab Calloway, Jay Leno, Bob Hope, Louie Bellson, Vic Damone, Tom Jones, Al Martino, Joel Grey, Mel Rhyne, David Benoit, Ira Sullivan, Ed Thigpen, Howard Levy, Buddy Montgomery, Doc Severinson, Eartha Kitt, Helen O'Connell, Roger Williams, Percy Faith, Lucas Foss, McCoy Tyner, Rufus Reid, Slide Hampton, John Scofield, Ritchie Cole, Stu Katz, Michael Feinstein,Stanley Jordan, Hod O'Brien and Stephanie Nakasian.