Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"With the release of the singer/songwriter-driven Jenny Scheinman(Koch, 2008), violinist Jenny Scheinman entered new territory as a vocalist. Crossing the Field, released the same day in digital download-only form (a hard CD version will be released September 9, 2008, also by Koch), expands on the forward motion of 12 Songs(Cryptogramophone, 2005) with an even larger ensemble and a unified concept. A sweeping, 13-piece suite - with the inclusion of a string orchestra - it's her most ambitious project to date, and demonstrates a logical evolution of an artist for whom there are few, if any, musical boundaries.
With co-soloists including longtime collaborators Bill Frisell (guitar), Ron Miles (cornet) and Doug Wieselman (clarinets), Scheinman also recruits pianist Jason Moran for the session. A player whose own discography is a matter of taste and controversy, the encyclopedic knowledge that informs Moran's distinctly modernistic bent has resulted in some outstanding guest work this year, most notably as the newest member of woodwind multi-instrumentalist Charles Lloyd's quartet on the outstanding Rabo de Nube (ECM, 2008). Here he's no less impressive, his opening solo on the backbeat-driven "Hard Sole Shoe" an early album highlight of idiosyncratic, blues-drenched virtuosity that moves in and out of its simple, two-chord form with élan and near-perfect intuition.
Scheinman is no less impressive, building her solo on the fast-paced "I Heart Eye Patch" with equal imagination and focus, leading into a solo from Frisell that's the musical equivalent of knitting a complex pattern, his melody effortlessly weaving its way through the changes. The brief "That's Delight" is a trio for Scheinman, Moran and drummer Kenny Wollesen that, with its diminutive instrumentation, shines a spotlight on all three; Moran's solo is a brief lesson in jazz history, Scheinman's robust tone lends her concise solo even greater depth, and Wollesen's empathic support makes him an equal partner.
Though there's plenty of solo space to be found, Crossing the Field's greatest strength is in the writing, an envelope-pushing marriage of Aaron Copland-esque American classicism (the moving "Ana Eco" and orchestra feature "Ripples in the Aquifer") and jazz tradition (Duke Ellington's "Awful Sad," the only non-original) with contemporary song form (the aptly titled "Processional"), quirky comic relief ("Three Bits and a Horse," a quartet feature for Wollesen, Frisell, Moran and Miles) and even a shade of Afrobeat ("Song for Sidiki").
Throughout, Scheinman's penchant for strong melody and resonance is consistently beautiful without ever being saccharine. "Old Brooklyn" revolves around a simple pulse, driven by bassist Tim Luntzel and Wieselman's folkloric melody. Supported by the ever-responsive Frisell, the lead is passed to Miles, with Wieselman re-entering for an elegantly harmonized recapitulation of the theme that brings the disc to a tender close.
Considering that Scheinman's been on the scene for just under a decade, Crossing the Field is all the more impressive; her almost exponential growth making where she'll go next hard to predict. With music as compelling as this, there's little doubt that, whatever path she does take, it'll be well worth going along for the ride." -AllAboutJazz
"Celebrating the release of 12 Songs (Cryptogramophone, 2005), violinist Jenny Scheinman assembled a string orchestra to augment her septet in performance at New York's Tonic. The addition enlivened the buoyant melodies and spurred the soloists with lush accompaniment. The thrilling results prompted Scheinman to write more for this instrumentation on Crossing the Field, her fifth and most ambitious CD to date.
She uses the string section as an integrated voice that interacts with, rather than playing alongside, the other instruments. On "Born into This," the strings weave a lilting cushion for the leader's solo, punctuated by Jason Moran's tinkling piano. "I Heart Eye Patch" finds bassist Tim Luntzel and drummer Kenny Wollesen propelling the ensemble with a bouncy march, eliciting a spry retort from the strings. Moran's bluesy rumbles unfurl over the mid-tempo groove of "Hard Sole Shoe," with clever embroidery from the orchestra. More traditionally, the strings swell with romantic sweeps over "Ana Eco" and dynamically shift from hushed whispers to dramatic flourishes on the cinematic "Einsamaller," recorded at the Tonic show.
Songs for smaller groupings temper the orchestra pieces, including two for violin, piano and drums. Moran stretches on "That's Delight," inverting the melodic line, and sparring with the leader on Duke Ellington's "Awful Sad," the sole cover. Bill Frisell's shimmering guitar colors the piano theme of "Processional," its sparse movement accentuated with rolling cymbals and Doug Wieselman's clarinet. He struts over the Afro-beat of "Song For Sidiki," as Scheinman's soaring line plays off the irrepressible groove. Cornetist Ron Miles gallops a call to the races for "Three Bits and a Horse," a feature for his horn and the punchy rhythm.
Filtering a wealth of stylistic influences - traditional and contemporary, American and international - Scheinman has honed a sincere, personal expression, its breadth revealed in the elegant sonority ofCrossing the Field and the poignant musings on her simultaneously released eponymous vocal debut." -AllAboutJazz
Personnel: Jenny Scheinman (violin, piano); Bill Frisell (guitar); Amie Weiss, Leena Gilbert, Laura Shifley, Kristi Helberg, Michi Wiancko , Jennifer Choi, Christina Courtin, Pico Alt, Leena Gilbert, Skye Steele, Julia Wedman, Julianne Carney, Mark Chung, Colin Jacobsen , Victor Schultz, Jonathan Gandelsman, Katherine Fong (violin); Dov Scheindlin, Megan Gould, Youyoung Kim, Max Mandel, Ron Lawrence , Stephanie Griffin, Jessica Troy, Nick Cords (viola); Timothy Loo, Fabrizio Mazzetta, Alex Greenbaum, Greg Heffernan, Eric Jacobsen, Natalie Haas, Marika Hughes (cello); Doug Wieselman (clarinet); Ron Miles (cornet); Jason Moran (piano); Zachary Cohen, Tim Luntzel (bass instrument); Kenny Wollesen (drums).
Audio Mixer: Sascha von Oertzen.
Photographer: Michael Wilson .
One of two albums the Brooklyn violinist/composer/bandleader released in 2008, CROSSING THE FIELD defies easy genre placement, thanks to Scheinman's instrumental facility and her exhilarating updating of traditional sounds, ranging from jazz to big band to swing to folk. Songs like "That's Delight" are gallant yet reckless, using violin as a centerpiece for a subtly crashing orchestra of piano, percussion, and mad-dashing rhythms. But then the opener "Born Into This" offers an avant-ambient mood that wouldn't be out of place on a Tortoise record, while tracks like "Ana Eco" are classical wordless ballads that recall the most epic of soundtracks or perhaps just entrance you amidst a solitary moonlit walk. FIELD crosses time periods, styles, and moods, but never ceases to inspire with its eclectic display of talent and inviting extension of boundaries.