Judy Garland Festival Pianist Releases 'Over the Rainbow,' Commemorative Album Under Rare Photographic Permission

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Commemorating renowned singer/actress Judy Garland, composer Harold Arlen, and lyricist E. Y. Harburg, of the song, Over the Rainbow, made famous in the 1939 film classic, Wizard of Oz, Michael Jensen's new solo piano release also titled, Over the Rainbow, was granted rare photographic permission from Judy Garland's daughter, Lorna Luft.

“I never imagined such a great honor would come my way, I mean to an unknown musician. Having enough courage, self-confidence... to send Lorna Luft my solo piano debut, Red Sky at Night, and thanks to Judy Garland Museum staff, was what made all the difference;” said Mr. Jensen, also native of Judy Garland's hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Mr. Jensen's over seventy minutes of solo piano, compared to the likes of pianists such as, George Winston, features four unique variations on the National Endowment for the Arts number one rated film song of the 20th Century, Over the Rainbow. “Relaxing music, but not in a superficial way,” commented Sound Engineer Stewart Weaver of Oasis CD, Sperryville, VA, the album's producer.

Mr. Jensen met his first piano in a lone dark room after Boy Scout meetings at age 11.

“That's just beautiful! You can come back here and play anytime,” commented the late Reverend Paul Berg of Grand Rapids Christ Memorial Episcopal Church, where ironically Mr. Jensen would later find out was the very same congregation where Judy Garland was baptized in 1922. In his childhood many rural northern Minnesota family's could not afford pianos at home. So Mr. Jensen learned on pianos in local churches, and later in his college years. It was not until he returned home again to care for his late mother, Helen Jensen, for whom both of his albums are also dedicated, that a piano came to him. “God should bring you back a piano,” commented a long family friend, the late Dahlia Garrison, of Cincinnati, Ohio, Mother to nationally acclaimed piano restorer Harry Garrison, also of Cincinnati, after hearing the story of Mrs. Jensen giving her only piano to the local church when her father died. In the summer of 1993, Mr. Jensen and his mother, still residing in a turn of the century farmstead just outside Grand Rapids, were surprisingly alerted to the deep drone of the huge Garrison piano restoration truck backing up to their front door to unload a fully restored beautiful Baldwin piano.

Several of Mr. Jensen's sisters, on their return visits home, as well as his mother, and an old friend turned sudden fan, heard him play for the first time. All encouraged him to record, including Mr. Jensen's late sister, Jacquilyn Jensen Dingmann who founded the Judy Garland Museum in 1975 and for whom both of his albums and his composition, For Jackie, is also dedicated. The first album, ninety minutes of solo piano titled, Red Sky at Night, was cassette tape recorded and duplicated at home and given to family and friends. Some were also sold to unknown individuals, which also further encouraged Mr. Jensen to continue to pursue recording his music for others all resulting in his first CD of the same title. Red Sky at Night, CD was purchased by the Judy Garland Museum in early 2004, which led to Mr. Jensen's very first public performance at the 2004 Judy Garland Festival on the piano in Judy Garland's living room. “You've played, Over the Rainbow, in so many beautiful unique ways you should make an album featuring just that song;” commented Judy Garland fan Sam Morris of Tinley Park Illinois just following Mr. Jensen's performance. That mere statement had a major impact on Mr. Jensen and the rest is now history in the making. Mr. Jensen, to calm his nerves prior to his performance, placed pictures of his mother, Judy Garland, and his sister Jackie, in the sheet music hold of his piano, which inspired the album's two original compositions, Judy's Smile, and, The Smiles That Go On. This triple portrait metaphorical influence to Mr. Jensen's music is replicated in a fold out and full story within his album's inner pages. Also EMI-Feist Music Publishing Inc, New York, NY allowed the song's lyrics to be reprinted at no charge. To honor his late sister Jackie, once an established artist with over 700 portraits nationwide, Mr. Jensen devoted a page to her portrait of Judy Garland superimposed with the lyrics, a rainbow, and a big cloud sky. Also a fan of Mr. Jensen's music is building a website for him at no charge, a huge boost to an aspiring artist where you can read more, hear clips, and purchase his music and 11x17 posters at http://www.michaeljensenpiano.com "I just can't believe it at times, all that came my way at no charge. I have so much to be grateful for. I thank God every day;" commented Mr. Jensen. Red Sky at Night, is sold out until futher notice. Mr. Jensen gives his 100% guarantee that all of his music, very moving emotional and improvisational works he calls “dream journeys”, is 101% music from his soul.... Hear him live at the 2006 Judy Garland Festival! He is also subject of an hour long television documentary soon to be released through Valley Access Channels of Stillwater, Minnesota http://www.valleyaccesschannels.tv

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Michael Jensen

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