Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Jenny Scheinman has a gift for writing evocative music. She explores different genres and comes up with an interesting take on each, drawing the listener into the core of its spirit. There is more to this music than just the compositions. The musicians forge their own atmosphere, each divining the play in extrapolating the base. And then there is the instrumentation; each piece fits in perfectly, a seamless fusion that gives the throb and the pump to the final picture.
Scheinman also has great depth as a violinist. She uses the timbre of the instrument to peg passion or to give to abandon. There is a grace in both. The former is manifested in the tonality she imbues onto "The Frog Threw His Head Back and Laughed, her notes deep and shimmering, the changes in the vamp bringing the angularities back to nest. Dan Reiser brings a compact rhythm and Ron Miles plays with an approach that is gentle yet firm in its linear development. This is a captivating tune and a great opener to boot.
"Little Calypso casts a different light. Scheinman lights a spark that flexes and dances, the calypso rhythm insinuating itself through the clarinet of Doug Wieselman, when in comes Rachelle Garniez to break up the melodic lines on the accordion and yet create a whole, making the spaces an integral part of her edifice. "Suza is a whirligig, with a buoyant radiance and a hot Caribbean radiance. Scheinman, Reiser, and Wieselman are the dynamic force, but Bill Frisell creates his own nook with an extended foray into the melodic pith of the tune.
Each of the many facets at play on 12 Songs has its own sense of accomplishment." -AllAboutJazz
"From the opening notes of 12 Songs, it becomes clear why Jenny Scheinman has been guitarist Bill Frisell 's violinist of choice for the past couple of years. It's more than being a good player - although she's very, very good. It's more about a shared sensibility that allows for liberal cross-pollination of genres, and a less-is-more approach to soloing - that is, when there even is soloing. For Scheinman, like Frisell, the song's the thing. And while both players are more than capable of extended improvisation, they prefer to create the kind of musical canvas that relies on free interpretation of a strong melody and group interaction, rather than discrete flights of fancy.
Having played on recent Frisell albums including 2003's The Intercontinentals, 2004's Unspeakable, and this year's Richter 858, it's no surprise that Scheinman has enlisted the guitarist's unmistakable voice for12 Songs. Frisell's relaxed phrasing, rich tone, and quirky sense of humour are in perfect keeping with Scheinman's own lush sound and unhurried approach.
Joining Scheinman and Frisell are cornetist Ron Miles (another Frisell collaborator), clarinetist Doug Wieselman, keyboard/accordionist Rachelle Garniez, bassist Tim Luntzel , and drummer Dan Reiser. You'd think that twelve songs with a septet would run the risk of becoming cluttered, but it's actually rare that all seven players are in the pool at the same time. Instead, Scheinman views them as colors on her sonic palette, using a splash of one here, a lick of another there.
There are conceptual links to Scheinman's last album, 2004's Shalagaster, but despite the occasional nod to music from farther abroad, 12 Songs is an unrepentantly American record. Still, filtered through Scheinman's strangely coloured lens, the music has the same kind of off-kilter unpredictability so prevalent in Frisell's work. Scheinman's writing comes from many times, while remaining completely timeless, ranging from the heartlands of "The Buoy Song to the gentle Aaron Copland-informed introduction to "She Couldn't Believe It Was True, which ultimately evolves into a curious link between a Celtic-cum-bluegrass theme and Jewish hora rhythm.
On the other hand, Scheinman's use of stylistic interconnections and the way she blends instruments is completely modern. The folkloric changes of "June 21 may feel familiar, but her blend of violin, clarinet, and cornet to create long, slow phrases beneath Frisell's slow-hand meanderings creates its own understated innovation. Scheinman's effective arrangements make for an intriguing house of cards. In many cases individual instruments don't appear to be essential, yet remove one and her carefully crafted sound would fall apart.
These appropriately titled 12 Songs may provide some solo space, but at the end of the day they're really compositional vignettes evocative of specific times, places, and emotions - another clear nexus point for Scheinman and Frisell. It would be easy to suggest she's been influenced by Frisell, but the truth is much deeper. Scheinman's voice was already well-formed before encountering Frisell, and 12 Songs is more a serendipitous case of two artists discovering they share a common space with common goals." -AllAboutJazz
Down Beat (p.68) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[S]uffused with radiant and seductive folk/worldish melodies....There's much to like here, particularly the way Scheinman orchestrates textures for violin, winds and accordion."
No Depression (p.140) - "[E]verything adheres closely to the character of each song. Soloing does occur regularly, but it weaves itself in by paying homage to the crisp melodies, offering up respectful variations with subtle grace and beauty."
Personnel: Jenny Scheinman (violin); Bill Frisell (guitar); Jenny Scheinman; Bill Frisell; Ron Miles (cornet); Tim Luntzel (double bass); Rachelle Garniez (accordion, piano); Doug Wieselman (clarinet); Dan Rieser (drums).
Audio Mixer: Sascha von Oertzen.
Recording information: Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, NY (12/13/2004/12/14/2004).
On Jenny Scheinman's third studio album, the avant-garde violinist offers up a set of inventive, jazz-rooted instrumental compositions. While Scheinman's masterful violin playing is always at the fore, trumpeter Ron Miles and guitarist extraordinaire Bill Frisell also make significant contributions, with the latter lending his unmistakable six-string atmospherics. Though Scheinman is renowned for her klezmer recordings, here that tradition becomes just one of many stylistic influences that she throws into the eclectic mix. Highlights of 12 SONGS include the playful, dream-like opening track, "The Frog Threw His Head Back and Laughed," and the meditative "Antenna," though the record works exceptionally well as a wonderfully consistent and dynamic whole.