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12 Songs

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Album Review

No one can accuse violinist and composer Jenny Scheinman of promulgating any kind of jazz cliché, or even of fitting in especially well with the rest of the Cryptogramophone label's crew of off-kilter jazz experimentalists. Her obsession is with songs and with lyrics — neither of which appear on this paradoxically titled album. The 12 compositions here aren't actually songs, but are meant to feel like songs, by which Scheinman means that they're intended to be clear, straightforward, singable, and emotionally direct. This they generally do achieve, but even when things get a bit opaque (as on the saucy and slightly goofy "Moe Hawk" and the meandering "Antenna") they're still emotionally compelling. On the album's finest moments, which include a tenderly beautiful composition titled "Sleeping in the Aquifer," which subtly evokes the old hymn "Abide with Me, 'Tis Eventide," a gorgeous violin-and-clarinets trio titled "Little Calypso," and the sweet and gentle "Albert," it really does feel as if Scheinman is sitting down and talking to you, or singing quietly into your ear. On the brilliant "Song of the Open Road," Scheinman and cornetist Ron Miles lock into a graceful waltz, while Bill Frisell's guitar churns away below with controlled ferocity and bassist Tim Luntzel thrums out an insistent pedal point. This kind of balance between directness, intensity, and complexity makes 12 Songs a more than usually impressive and compelling modern jazz album. Very highly recommended.

Customer Reviews

Wonderful (I like it a lot!)

Listening to this album is like having an hour-long, far-reaching conversation with a dear friend. Totally satisfying and enriching.


Born: June 8, 1979 in Jacksonville, FL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Violinist, composer, improviser, bandleader, and (yes) singer Jenny Scheinman has been a major force in avant jazz and roots-oriented creative music on both coasts of America, making a particular impact in the Brooklyn creative jazz scene following her arrival in the borough from the West Coast in 1999. She made weekly appearances at the Barbès club in the Park Slope neighborhood when not on tour or involved in other competing projects, using her residency there as a laboratory for trying out a variety...
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12 Songs, Jenny Scheinman
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