Review Jenny Scheinman's Mischief and Mayhem @ Village Vanguard
Kings of Rhythm and a Queen of the Avant-Garde
By Will Friedwald
If the Knitting Factory ever established an outpost in Nashville, Jenny Scheinman's Mischief & Mayhem band is what you'd hear there. Ms. Scheinman, a violinist, composer, and vocalist, is one of those young players (at 31) who at first seems almost insanely diverse; I heard her for the first time (on records at least) playing behind Norah Jones on the blockbuster country-jazz hybrid Come Away With Me" and, at about the same time, re-creating the Original Dixieland Jazz Band with clarinet Dan Levinson.
Upon closer look, though, more logical patterns start to emerge. Ms. Scheinman is a veteran of guitarist Bill Frisell's Sextet (at the Vanguard in 2007), and it's in that context that her own music makes more obvious sense. In the 50 years of the avant-garde, we've heard new jazz based on bebop, on Africa, on old Europe, and the Mississippi Delta--so cutting edge sounds with roots in folk and country music is a perfectly logical step.
Most of the music she played in her opening set at the Vanguard on Tuesday came out of a vaguely Frisell-ian tradition of avant-jazz/Americana. With guitarist Nels Cline (on hiatus from the rock band Wilco) relying heavily on soundscape-style synth effects as a proper stand-in for Mr. Frisell, it was kind of Milton Babbitt meets Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies.
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