Artemis

The current six members of Artemis: Renee Rosnes, Allison Miller, Alexa Tarantino, Noriko Ueda, Ingrid Jensen, Nicole Glover.

The Greek goddess Artemis has been the mistress of the forest, moon and wild animals – and now, apparently, of all-female jazz. This holy virgin was a better hunter and archer than any man of her time, mortal or divine. But let’s not forget that Artemis is also the twin sister of Apollo, another decent archer, who happens to be the god of music and composition.

“The name was my idea,” says Canadian trumpeter Ingrid Jensen during a phone interview, filled with the sound of her wrapping up at work. Jensen is currently head of the jazz department at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. At 7pm on a Friday night, one can still hear voices in the building, practicing or exchanging wishes for a good weekend.

The project is a brainchild of Canadian composer and pianist, NYC-based Renee Rosnes, who serves as the band’s music director. Founded in 2017, under the banner of International Women’s Day, Artemis blew up at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival, delighting the audience, including Blue Note Records President Don Was.

Soon, the group signed with the Blue Note and their eponymously titled debut album was released in September 2020. The album contains both original compositions, such as the lively “Big Top” by Rosnes, and American standards. The band is equally happy doing jazz classics, like Thelonious Monk’s “Brilliant Corners,” as it is a piece like “Song for Abdullah,” a composition by Kenny Barron, considered one of the most influential jazz pianists since the bebop era.

With some member swaps, Artemis kept forming through festivals.

“We went through many iterations and names and kept looking for a proper name, the spirit animal of the band,” Jensen says. “We thought about some kind of goddess, and Artemis, the goddess of the hunt – the name spoke to the whole energy of the band. The rest is history.”

With a second album around the corner, Artemis will give two performances this weekend at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Listening to their sometimes frantic, sometimes very tender arrangements, it’s not hard to imagine a contemporary Artemis running through a California wilderness in a short tunic and sneakers, with all-female jazz in her headphones.

ARTEMIS 1:50pm on the Jimmy Lyons Stage and 7pm on the West End Stage on Saturday, Sept. 24. Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey. $85-$260. 373-3366, montereyjazzfestival.org.

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