Bill Frisell was headlining the Village Vanguard when I was in Manhattan in April 2007. The guitarist turned in an impassioned, high-powered performance, aided in great part by his front-line violinist Jenny Scheinman. Blazing strings throughout the set, as you might imagine.
Admittedly, I had lost track of Scheinman’s work for a while but now I am decidedly hooked. Her latest album, “The Littlest Prisoner,” has been in constant rotation in my CD player since its May release. And it’s not just me – here’s how The New York Times reviewed a Scheinman performance earlier this month.
A violinist of outstanding reputation within jazz, folk-rock and country (and especially the region of overlap among them), she stepped out as a singer-songwriter about six years ago, and has steadily grown more comfortable in that role. “The Littlest Prisoner” consists entirely of her own songs, which feel emotionally guileless but self-assured, made with a deft, steady hand.
Her accompaniment on the album, which was thoughtfully produced by Tucker Martine, features the guitarist Bill Frisell and the drummer Brian Blade: brilliant colorists who, like her, have long slipped freely in and out of jazz. They rejoined her here, bringing a warm, flowing austerity to their framing of the songs, the picture of sensitivity and poise.
Bay Area audiences have two opportunities to hear Scheinman. She performs August 2 at Duende in Oakland with Ben Goldberg, Adam Levy and Ted Poor and August 3 at Stern Grove in San Francisco with Todd Sickafoose's Bear Proof.
By the way, Scheinman is one of Northern California’s own. She grew up in Petrolia in remote Humboldt County near Cape Mendocino. The violinist started playing professional in the Bay Area before decamping a decade ago for New York. Check her out.
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