"This is an experienced singer... and it's the combination of innocence and sexy womanliness somewhere in the timbre of her voice that lets you know it."
Shane Nichols - www.allaboutjazz.com
Born in New Zealand but based in Sydney, Australia for over 20 years, Bonnie has played a variety of international stages, fulfilling engagements at Stockholm’s legendary jazz club Stampen, Singapore’s Southbridge jazz club, Kuala Lumpur’s Alexis Club and Barcelona’s Bel Luna jazz club. Locally, she has performed at The Basement, at numerous interstate corporate and bespoke events as well as major Jazz Festivals, most recently the 2012 Thredbo Jazz Festival and the 2011 Manly Jazz Festival, where she appeared with her all-star Quintet line-up.
Late 2009, she teamed up with exceptional talents Graham Jesse, Matt McMahon, Phil Stack, James Muller, Nicolas McBride and recorded her 4th album S H I M M E R. The result of this collaboration is a colourful palette of sounds, featuring 3 new diverse original compositions.
Bonnie adds, “I was very inspired while writing and working on these songs, knowing that Graham, Matt, James and the other exceptional players would be adding their midas touch. Graham co-arranged most of the tracks with me and also wrote beautiful string arrangements for 2 of them. Plus, the legendary James Morrison graced us with a guest appearance on one track”.
“SHIMMER” is the most personal and intimate of Bonnie's 4 releases to date. Her trademarks are all there, the smoky timbre of her voice, the pitch perfect accuracy, the lovely way she controls her lower register. And as with her other albums, her songs are blessed with superb backups… it has the contemporary feel that was just hinted at in her excellent earlier CDs. This is a logical next step for an artist who clearly has a vision for her craft and knows where she is going.”
Steve Robertson, On Air, PBS FM 2010
Listeners familiar with her previous work will appreciate Bonnie’s hallmark re-workings of classic pop songs. “I love finding a darn good, well loved song, blurring the genres, and giving it a reincarnation of sorts”, says Bonnie.
Her first recognition in the jazz world arrived in 2001, following the release of her debut CD Lucky So & So, which immediately rose to No. 3 in the Australian Indie Charts. This immaculately-produced recording of swinging jazz standards and originals placed her warm and stylish vocals to the fore, introduced her soulful song-writing and established her on the local map.
The prolific American music critic David Nathan wrote the following about Lucky So & So in his 2001 column on www.allaboutmusic.com:
… Maintaining the high standards set by the La Brava label with its previous releases, Jensen delivers a scintillating, expressive 55 minutes of music. Possessing a voice with excellent range, she distributes emotions tailored to the message she wants each song to convey to the listener, whether the tune be an original or standard - the mark of a good jazz singer ...
In November 2003, following a season performing in Japan, Bonnie recorded and co-produced her second album Blue Joy, a soulful mix of popular and bluesy tunes. This album contained more original material, displaying her development as a writer and arranger, and was devised with a coherent theme – love’s inherent dichotomy of ecstasy and anguish.
Blue Joy quickly climbed in the Australian Independent Jazz Charts' Top 10 (2004) and was also licensed and released in Japan that year. A feature article appeared in the April ’04 issue of Japan’s Swing Journal – the magazine for jazz devotees, and Blue Joy rose to No. 8 in their (vocal) charts in June 2004.
Shane Nichols, music reviewer at The Australian Financial Review wrote the following:
"…Jensen's second album is a confident, bold and coherent statement of a musician (singer, player, composer and arranger) hitting stride. Jensen is that rarest of things - a full blooded, grown up sexy woman unafraid to let her passions and eroticism inform her music in a sophisticated way, beyond the usual raunchy, bluesy stuff…”.
The official launch of Blue Joy in 2004 was held at Sydney’s infamous venue, The Basement, where Bonnie and her sextet – a handful of Australia’s crack jazz musicians (Lloyd Swanton, Fabian Hevia, Michael Bartolomei, Craig Walters, Jeremy Sawkins and Don Rader) played to a full house.
February 2007 marked the release of her third album The Sapphire Tree, a collection of songs Bonnie says was inspired by the instrumentalists she was working with, and audiences’ reactions to live performances around that time. By 2006 Bonnie had started working with Miroslav Bukovsky and the core musicians of his ARIA winning jazz ensemble “Wanderlust”. They are featured on The Sapphire Tree (three of them also played on her previous album) and these unique talents collaborated to create a certain warm sound with a contemporary, European flavour. This dovetailed subtely with Bonnie’s soulful interpretations and enhanced her unique approaches to a now typically diverse selection of songs.
John McBeath at The Australian Weekend Review in 2007 mentioned that she draws “…on many influences, sounding sometimes reminiscent of Renee Geyer, at other [times], traces of Peggy Lee or Sarah Vaughan emerge…”.
While many artists talk about listening to their parents’ records when they were young, Bonnie’s introduction to jazz was more abstract. Previously classically-trained with choral and orchestral experience (clarinet), she was living in Europe in her early 20’s when she first encountered the genre that she remains the most beguiled by; her initial discovery within the Jazz realm was the music of the Brazilian master, Antonio Carlos Jobim. The natural warmth and emotion of his songs, and the sophisticated harmonies underlying Jobim’s elegant melodies captured her and continue to intrigue and inspire her.
“…Jensen's title ballad, an original, displays a talent for both musical composition and poetic lyrics, evident too on "Neon Soliloquy": "Like a diamond in the river, as precious as the African rain, this glimpse of bliss will sustain you - again and again…”
John McBeath, The Australian Weekend Review 2007