The Jeni Fleming Trio, one of the rare Montana bands that enjoyed some national recognition for the seven short years they were together (2000-2007), returns to stages in Billings March 25, Bozeman March 31 and Rapid City April 6-7 for a reunion tour. In addition to the trio’s namesake, vocalist Jeni Fleming, members are bassist Chad Langford and guitarist and saxophonist Jake Fleming.
Though their educations and backgrounds are as diverse as the material they became known for (which swung wildly from The Beatles to The Cure to Duke Ellington to Lutheran hymns), their appeal transcended generation and genre. Due in part to their signature sound, which simultaneously held elements of chamber music (intimate, intricate and interwoven) and a casualness born from hours spent on the bandstand, the trio quickly grew a large fan base, recorded five albums, headlined jazz festivals, and performed with symphony orchestras across the Northwest and into Canada.
Their five-album discography culminated with the fully orchestrated album, We’ll Be Together Again, featuring Montana’s premiere string players, The String Orchestra of the Rockies. The threesome was also featured on the pilot episode of the Montana PBS series 11th & Grant with Eric Funk, in a segment that earned the series its first Emmy Award.
Members of the trio have shared the stage with, or opened for, Dave Brubeck, Salman Rushdie, Nancy King, Patrick Leonard, Hank Jones, Maya Angelou, Yann Martel, The Ahn Trio, Cyrus Chestnut, and Stefon Harris, to name a few.
Langford relocated to Europe in 2007, and eventually completed a doctorate in composition at Durham University in the U.K., where he now teaches composition. His recent music has been featured in festivals across Europe.
Jake and Jeni released two more albums, December (2008) and Come to Life (2010), before an amicable divorce in 2012 (they threw a joint divorce party for 300 of their closest friends to celebrate what they both maintain was a successful marriage).
Jake remarried and has a 3-year old daughter; he maintains a private teaching studio in Bozeman, and a recording and rehearsal space. He continues to practice a dozen instruments in the course of a week, plays in a handful of bands, makes commercial music and music for yoga and as meditation, and is currently working on a few albums.
Jeni continues performing in several bands and teaching private voice and piano. However, following a heart attack in May, her focus shifted to maintaining her health and de-stressing her life, which meant letting go of some performing.
“These guys are two of the most important musical influences in my life,” she says. “And now, with all this water under the bridge, we have a chance to do the thing we’re good at together, minus the difficulties that say, a marriage can bring, or a 20-something ego might present, or even just the pressure of surviving a hand-to-mouth existence.
“Also, it isn’t lost on me how lucky I am to have a chance to breathe new life into this music, post heart attack.”
“They say you don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone, but we knew all along.”
For tour dates and ticket info log onto www.jenifleming.com.