Dean Jensen was born in Seattle and raised in California. His first musical experiences were with the family piano, his mother’s rather modest classical guitar, and the trumpet in the school music program. The guitar soon moved permanently into his possession, and he promptly began improvising and composing.
Seeking a formal education in music, Dean received a B.A. in music from the University of California, Santa Cruz, studying composition and electronic music with David Cope and Gordon Mumma, guitar with Lawrence Ferrara, and exploring various nontraditional forms of music.
A couple of years later, in the chance of a lifetime, Dean began studying guitar with Robert Fripp in a program called Guitar Craft. Rather comprehensive, Guitar Craft used live performance (sometimes announced to the performers on very short notice) and recording as key elements in gaining practical education in the realities of the professional performing musician. Dean performed with the League of Crafty Guitarists throughout the United States from 1985 to 1989.
After moving to Chicago, Dean fell in with a couple of like-minded musicians from Guitar Craft, guitarist John Novak and saxophonist (and Adrian Belew alum) Bill Janssen. Together they formed the instrumental trio Loud Shirts, which released several recordings and performed throughout the Midwest and East Coast. Dean later formed and performed with the rock and roll band Ping Jockeys with bassist Brian Gingrich, drummer Eric Batterman, and vocalist Stephanie Browning. Dean appears along with guitarist David Torn on Gingrich’s CD The White Rim of Heaven. During this time Dean also produced the oral history program “Speakin’ of the Blues” for the Chicago Public Library. Somehow, in America you never get too far from the blues.
In 1998 Dean and his family moved to Seattle, where he began working with other Guitar Craft alums in the Seattle Guitar Circle, and later the Atomic Chamber Ensemble, performing around the Pacific Northwest and releasing the full-length CD King for a Day. Dean composed the title track, which is still regularly performed by a successor project called Tuning the Air.
In 2003 Dean began formally studying film scoring with Hummie Mann at the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program. “After working with Hummie I found my voice and my strengths as a musician and a composer. Suddenly my passion for seemingly non-traditional forms and not-quite genre-specific music had a home, and a real role to play.”