Jenny Scheinman

Jenny Scheinman is one of the liveliest, quirkiest jazz musicians out there, a violinist with folk roots, a kind of bluegrass cadence, and a deepening mastery of improvisational idiom. She’s playing at the Village Vanguard through this Sunday with Jason Moran (the best pianist on the scene), Greg Cohen (one of the two or three best bassists), and Rudy Royston (a drummer who’s new to me but he’s very good too). If you’re in the tri-State area, go see her.

At the late set last Tuesday, she played mainly her own compositions—lovely slow ballads and rousing up-tempo ditties, all teeming with wit and verve and a dash of whimsy. I’ve been watching her for a few years now (she plays regularly at Barbes, a small club in my Brooklyn neighborhood), and she just keeps getting better. Her writing is more complex yet no less straightforward; that is, there’s more going on in the harmonies and rhythms, but they’re so well integrated with the melody and mood, you wouldn’t know it. Her playing is more fluent, her improvisations more adventurous, her leaps more seamless.

Many of the songs she played come from her new CD, Crossing the Field (Koch), which features Moran, guitarist Bill Frisell, and a string orchestra. It’s a terrific album, though I must say the massed strings round off the music’s edges; I prefer the leaner quartet and some of her earlier albums, especially 12 Songs and Shalagaster. The sonics are excellent on all her albums,

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