Artemis: In Real Time

All-female sextet with Renee Rosnes and Ingrid Jensen focuses on post-bop, including tunes by Wayne Shorter and Lyle Mays among the originals

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Artemis adopted their name in 2017 after performing for a year with no official moniker. The band was a septet when its self-titled debut album came out in 2020. Now, on their new album, they’re a sextet, with Anat Cohen, Melissa Aldana and singer Cécile McLorin Salvant having given way to multi-reedist Alexa Tarantino and tenor saxist Nicole Glover. They join founding members, music director and pianist Renee Rosnes, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Allison Miller.

Six of the album’s eight pieces are originals by band members and two are covers of numbers by Wayne Shorter and Lyle Mays (Pat Metheny’s pianist). The opener, Slink, with its serpentine arrangement of piano, Fender Rhodes, flute, tenor sax and wordless voice has virtuosic solos from Rosnes and Jensen, a rhythmic bass and ticking drums. Bow And Arrow (Artemis was an archer in Greek legend) was composed by Miller and recalls the modal sound of the 60s. Then the pace slows right down with Rosnes’ ballad Balance Of Time which is followed by Ueda’s composition, Lights Away From Home, centred around her spirited bass soloing.

Jensen composed Timber in reference to the important relationship between forestry and the earth which is cut short when trees are felled. Tarantino features on flute in her composition Whirlwind where she echos the horns in tandem to the ebb and flow of the song’s title. The fast-moving Empress Afternoon, first released on Rosnes’ album Life On Earth, has the original tabla work from Zakir Hussain updated here by Miller. Then, the pianist’s arrangement of Wayne Shorter’s Penelope closes the album in style with Glover standing tall in Shorter’s shoes and Jensen superb on muted trumpet.

This post-bop / contemporary jazz set reveals the prowess of individual band members whilst spotlighting the ensemble’s collective vitality as a whole. The fly in the ointment unfortunately is Blue Note’s packaging. It’s impossible to get the CD out of its tight-fitting sleeve without gripping hard and pulling with your fingers all over the playing surface. If smaller labels can house CDs properly it seems cheeseparing to do otherwise.

Discography
Slink; Bow and Arrow; Balance of Time; Lights Away from Home; Timber; Whirlwind; Empress Afternoon; Penelope (50.18)
Ingrid Jensen (t); Nicole Glover (ts); Alexa Tarantino (as, ss, flute); Renee Rosnes (p, elp); Noriko Ueda (b); Allison Miller (d). New York, 2023.
Blue Note Records