79

Jenny Scheinman: Mischief and Mayhem

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Jenny Scheinman: Mischief and Mayhem
The title of violinist Jenny Scheinman's sixth album as leader tells much of, but not the whole story. Playful and daring, with memorable melodies rubbing shoulders with arresting improvisations, there's an irresistible freshness and vigor about the music. However, there are more layers to peel away, and great subtlety and lyricism reveal themselves upon each subsequent listen. Scheinman's solo career has been somewhat overshadowed by her decade-long collaborations with guitarist Bill Frisell and her busy schedule as a side-musician, yet her solo recordings highlight her undoubted talents as a songwriter and, as demonstrated on Jenny Scheinman (KOCH Records, 2008), a singer to boot. Reverting here to instrumental territory, Mischief and Mayhem states the case for being Scheinman's most striking work to date.

The loping rhythm of "A Ride With Polly Jean" seduces from the get go, and Jim Black's perfectly placed trio of bass drum hits early on give the number its liftoff. Scheinman's uncluttered, bewitching playing raises goose bumps, and she is lent telling support by bassist Todd Sickafoose's mantra-like double-bass ostinato and guitarist Nels Cline's deftness on six strings, and atmospheric, hazy loops. It's a stunning opener and would serve well as a soundtrack for a spaghetti mid-western, conjuring big, open spaces and epic adventure.

Scheinman explores African flavors on "Sand Dipper" and "Ali Farka Touché." "Sand Dipper" successfully juxtaposes a stripped down earthiness—with lilting violin center-stage—with a brooding restlessness. On "Ali Farka Touché," Cline and Scheinman combine in rootsy homage to Ali Farka Torre, evoking perfectly the spirit of the late Malian singer/guitarist. Scheinman is as much at home exploring African sounds as she is playing jazz or folksy fiddle tunes, as witnessed on "Baba Drame," from Frisell's The Intercontinentals (Nonesuch, 2003) and Scheinman's own "Song for Sidiki" from Crossing the Field (KOCH Records, 2008); clearly a whole album of African-inspired music wouldn't go amiss.

There's some serious mischief about "Blues For Double Vee," a lovingly irreverent tribute to the Village Vanguard; surf-punk drums spur some gritty country-rock from Cline and a paint-stripper of a solo from Scheinman, which contains the energetic swing and rough edges of violinist Stuff Smith. A punkish energy runs through "The Mite," a heady workout featuring inspired playing from Cline and Scheinman at the epicenter of intense group interplay.

Scheinman explores more meditative terrain on three tracks, which though spaced apart, form a sort of triptych. The dream-like lament of "Devil's Ink" lulls before delivering a sting in the tail; "The Audit" contains a less dark lyricism, and "July Tenth in Three Four"—featuring a poignant solo from Sickafoose—dawns like a spring morning. These tracks should appeal to fans of Californian experimenters I Heart Lung.

Scheinman has led this band for five years, but its debut release has been well worth the wait. Song form and improvisation go hand-in-hand, blurring the lines between jazz, folk, African roots, rock and experimental soundscapes. Scheinman is a compelling story teller; is it any wonder Frisell calls upon her services time and time again?

Track Listing

A Ride With Polly Jean; Sand Dipper; Blues For The Double Vee; Devil's Ink; The Audit; Ali Farka Touché; July Tenth In Three Four; The Mite.

Personnel

Jenny Scheinman: violin; Nels Cline: guitars; Todd Sickafoose: bass; Jim Black: drums.

Album information

Title: Mischief and Mayhem | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Message from Groove and GW
Message from Groove and GW
The Radam Schwartz Organ Big Band
Read Hard Bop
Hard Bop
Eric Binder
Read Duos & Trios
Duos & Trios
Armaroli - Schiaffini - Sjostrom
Read How Can We Wake?
How Can We Wake?
Josephine Davies
Read Blue Has A Range
Blue Has A Range
Steve Cardenas
Read Then Now
Then Now
Rob Brown - Matthew Shipp
Read Human Dust Suite
Human Dust Suite
Miki Yamanaka
Read You're It!
You're It!
The Mike Melito/Dino Losito Quartet

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.