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Celebrating the release of 12 Songs (Cryptogramophone, 2005), violinist Jenny Scheinman assembled a string orchestra to augment her septet in performance at New York's Tonic. The addition enlivened the buoyant melodies and spurred the soloists with lush accompaniment. The thrilling results prompted Scheinman to write more for this instrumentation on Crossing the Field, her fifth and most ambitious CD to date.
She uses the string section as an integrated voice that interacts with, rather than playing alongside, the other instruments. On "Born into This," the strings weave a lilting cushion for the leader's solo, punctuated by Jason Moran's tinkling piano. "I Heart Eye Patch" finds bassist Tim Luntzel and drummer Kenny Wollesen propelling the ensemble with a bouncy march, eliciting a spry retort from the strings. Moran's bluesy rumbles unfurl over the mid-tempo groove of "Hard Sole Shoe," with clever embroidery from the orchestra. More traditionally, the strings swell with romantic sweeps over "Ana Eco" and dynamically shift from hushed whispers to dramatic flourishes on the cinematic "Einsamaller," recorded at the Tonic show.
Songs for smaller groupings temper the orchestra pieces, including two for violin, piano and drums. Moran stretches on "That's Delight," inverting the melodic line, and sparring with the leader on Duke Ellington's "Awful Sad," the sole cover. Bill Frisell's shimmering guitar colors the piano theme of "Processional," its sparse movement accentuated with rolling cymbals and Doug Wieselman's clarinet. He struts over the Afro-beat of "Song For Sidiki," as Scheinman's soaring line plays off the irrepressible groove. Cornetist Ron Miles gallops a call to the races for "Three Bits and a Horse," a feature for his horn and the punchy rhythm.
Filtering a wealth of stylistic influencestraditional and contemporary, American and internationalScheinman has honed a sincere, personal expression, its breadth revealed in the elegant sonority of Crossing the Field and the poignant musings on her simultaneously released eponymous vocal debut.
Track Listing: Born Into This; I Heart Eye Patch; That's Delight; Ana Eco; Hard Sole Shoe; Einsamaller; Awful Sad; Processional; The Careeners; Three Bits and a Horse; Song for Sidiki; Ripples in the Aquifer; Old Brooklyn.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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