Jenny Scheinman looks forward and backward with new music
After growing up in a coastal Humboldt County hamlet so isolated she often rode to school, the violinist Jenny Scheinman often wrote tunes inspired by his encounters with nature.
Squatting with her husband and their two children during the first year of the pandemic, she had more time than ever to commune with the forests and streams around their home in Eureka, settings that found their way into the new music. which she performs throughout the region with her new quintet starting this weekend.
With musical passions that span the jazz, folk, pop and rock landscapes, Scheinman is a protean artist who has toured and recorded with artists such as guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Allison Miller and singer-songwriters Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn. and Robbie Fulks. A gifted songwriter herself, she has recently focused on instrumental tunes “that evoke a vast and serene natural environment,” she said. “The music is beautiful, which is not a qualitative statement. That’s why I’m going.
Performing July 24 at Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, July 27 at Freight & Salvage, and July 28 at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Scheinman assembled a drummerless band drawn from several other ensembles. The quintet is anchored by Danville, Oregon-based bassist Todd Sickafoose, who was one of its closest musical collaborators for more than two decades during their years in the Bay Area, Brooklyn, and back to the west coast. They starred on each other’s projects and in Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom. Now living in Portland, Sickafoose won a Tony Award for his orchestrations on “Hadestown,” the hit musical based on the Anaïs Mitchell album he produced (and which recently completed a tour at the Orpheum). San Francisco Theater).
Longtime musical comrades Beth Schenck (alto sax) and Matt Wrobel (acoustic guitar), who both live in San Francisco, play with Scheinman in the collective House of Faern, a chamber jazz quartet whose repertoire also evokes sylvan decorations. And New York pianist Carmen Staaf, musical director of NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater, is a member of Parlor Game, the quartet that Scheinman co-leads with Allison Miller.
Expect to hear tracks like “House of Flowers,” a “slow-flowering” Scheinman track, she says, as well as the Django Reinhardt-inspired “Shutdown Stomp.” There’s also the gritty “Ornette Goes Home,” which she wrote “imagining Ornette Coleman returning to Texas, which ties into the country roots of a lot of New York musicians.” We are immersed in this urban culture and at a certain point, you are obliged to recover some of this grain of countryside. You transform and go back.
While Scheinman writes specifically for some of the ensembles, she’s also a determined composer to create pieces “to play with different combinations so that I can hear musicians’ thoughts about it in different ways,” she said. “The novelties I am focusing on with this quintet are the next step in the evolution of House of Faern. Beth has such an amazing tone concept, based on the classic. I’m almost always the melody player, so it’s really fun for me to hear it in the lead. And Matt plays steel-string acoustic guitar, which made me realize how much this music is inspired by my early inspirations.
Its string ensemble references seminal Scheinman sources such as Shakti, the Indo-jazz band that guitarist John McLaughlin co-led with tabla master Zakir Hussain, and the Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli Quintet of the Hot Club. of France. In the mid-90s, she played gypsy jazz with guitarist Paul Mehling San Francisco Hot Clubthe group behind the revival of the Hot Club.
“I enrolled in college with the Hot Club of San Francisco and really got an education in early repertoire, jazz fiddle history and the local music market,” she said. .
“Enrico’s was our club,” Scheinman added, referring to the beloved North Beach sidewalk cafe that closed in 2006. “A couple of these new tracks have that Django quarter-note strumming thing. “
While she has moved away from the Hot Club sound and repertoire and isn’t particularly known for that particular string band idiom, Scheinman did a Django-centric project with guitarist Marc Ribot in 2003. Digging into his past is another way forward, part of his lineage review process to aid evolution.
“How to take one more step?” she says. “In my own personal story, coming home to my childhood environment with all this non-gig-oriented rehearsal time, that’s what came out of it. I also play a lot of folk music with Robbie Fulks and all that It’s another step in this long history of acoustic music and acoustic jazz, integrating the complexity of American jazz and bringing the acoustic propulsion of early swing.
Contact Andrew Gilbert at [email protected]
JENNY SCHEINMAN QUINTET
When or: 4:30 p.m. July 24 at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, 311 Mirada Road, Half Moon Bay; $35, bachddsoc.org; 8:00 p.m. July 27 at Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley; $20, thefreight.org; 7 p.m. July 28 at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320 Cedar St., Santa Cruz; $21 to $31.50; www.kuumbwajazz.org.