Performance Saturday, March 23, 2013 | 9 PM

Jenny Scheinman Trio
Featuring Bill Frisell and Brian Blade

Songs With and Without Words

Zankel Hall
Violinist Jenny Scheinman, along with all-star bandmates guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Brian Blade, presents the concert-hall world debut of their versatile and melodic trio.

This concert is part of Late Nights at Zankel Hall.


  • Jenny Scheinman, Violin and Vocals
  • Bill Frisell, Guitar
  • Brian Blade, Drums


  • Jenny Scheinman Trio

    Jenny Scheinman is a singer, violin player, composer, and arranger. She has been on numerous Grammy-winning recordings and has been one of the top violinists in the DownBeat Critics Poll for more than a decade. She grew up on a homestead in Northern California in a family of folk musicians, studied at Oberlin Conservatory, graduated with a degree in English literature from UC Berkeley, and has been performing since she was a teenager. She spent her early 20s in the San Francisco Bay Area, moved to Brooklyn in 1998, and is considered a leader in the Brooklyn arts renaissance.

    Scheinman has spent much of the last four years on the road with Bruce Cockburn, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Rodney Crowell as their opening act and fiddle player. She has also worked closely with Lucinda Williams, Norah Jones, Lou Reed, and Madeleine Peyroux. Her history with Bill Frisell goes back to 1998, when they met on a recording date produced by his longtime manager Lee Townsend. Since then, they have made 12 studio albums and more than a dozen live recordings together.

    In 2009, Scheinman released her fifth and most extravagant instrumental album to date, Crossing the Field, which features colleagues Frisell, Jason Moran, Doug Wieselman, Ron Miles, Kenny Wollesen, and Tim Luntzel, plus a string orchestra led by Brooklyn Rider. Since then, she has been exploring smaller instrumentations. In 2012, she released Mischief & Mayhem with Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, Jim Black, and Todd Sickafoose. She has just recorded a trio album with Frisell and Brian Blade, as well as a suite of solo fiddle/violin music.

    Scheinman moved back to Northern California in 2012, where she now resides with her two young children and her partner, artist Andrew Nofsinger. She believes that the arts are integral to the conscience and evolution of our culture, and is working to bring music into the lives of rural kids in her hometown.

    Frisell's career as a guitarist and composer has spanned more than 35 years and over 250 recordings, including 40 albums of his own. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists, filmmakers, and legendary musicians, but it is his work as a leader that has garnered increasing attention and accolades. In 2006, Frisell was named a USA Rasmuson Fellow grant recipient, offered by United States Artists. He is also a recipient of grants from Meet the Composer and National Performance Network, and in 2012 was awarded a Doris Duke Fellowship.

    The multi-talented Blade is widely respected in the jazz world as a drummer, composer, and leader of The Fellowship Band, with whom he has released three albums. He is also known for his work with Daniel Lanois, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Wayne Shorter, Bill Frisell, and Emmylou Harris. Blade is always searching for the balance that gives a song a personal story with an outward-reaching resonance. In 2009, he released his first recording as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter, Mama Rosa.

    Scheinman's trio with Frisell and Blade was born in New York City's venerable Village Vanguard in December 2011. She had always wanted to perform with Brian Blade, and a weeklong-run in the intimate space of the Vanguard presented the perfect opportunity. "By the end of that week, I felt like we really knew each other, and the trio had developed a way of playing that was it's own-spontaneous, impulsive, emotional, but really clear," Scheinman says. The shows were instrumental, but they included several covers that Scheinman included on her debut vocal album, a Lucinda Williams tune, and "Love" by John Lennon. "One of the exciting things about this trio is the breadth of repertoire," she continues. "We can shift from a bebop instrumental to a country love song and no one gets hurt." A year later, Scheinman brought the trio together at Tucker Martine's studio in Portland. "I had a set of songs with words that I was dying to record, and I wanted to do something new with the trio," she says. The result was 10 songs-seven with words and three without.

    More Info


Jenny Scheinman's A Ride With Polly Jean
Jenny Scheinman, Violin
Jenny Scheinman

Jeff Tamarkin on Jenny Scheinman

When Jenny Scheinman performs at Zankel Hall on March 23, the violinist and vocalist will be both on familiar ground and stepping into relatively unknown territory. One of her collaborators, renowned guitarist Bill Frisell, has been a regular musical partner for more than a decade—the two have shared many stages together and contributed often to one another's recordings. But drummer Brian Blade—although one of the most in-demand and prolific in jazz—had worked with Frisell but never with Scheinman until a year ago, when this particular trio made its debut at a downtown club. Since then, the three have recorded an album together and performed a handful of further dates, but Scheinman is still feeling out exactly what they are capable of as a unit—and marveling at what she's discovering.

"I love the way they play together," she says about Blade and Frisell. "Whenever there's fewer players, there's more vulnerability, more exposure, more intimacy, more flexibility. I like the possibilities. Brian lights Bill on fire, and Bill's sound hugs the violin. You can hear everything."

Scheinman has never been afraid to step into new and often disparate worlds. Her music bridges the free-spiritedness of jazz with the back-porch homey casualness of folk and country, a seemingly odd hybrid that makes perfect sense when her back story is revealed: Scheinman grew up in rural Northern California in a family where music was plentiful, but "there wasn't much else to do." She left at age 16 and ultimately came of age professionally amidst New York City's bustling, competitive jazz scene. Now she's recognized for both her virtuoso violin work and as a song stylist, having supplemented her instrumental music with songs drawn from the folk idiom to which she was exposed during her childhood.

"Those American country-folk type songs are where I come from," says Scheinman, who is now residing back in California with her own family, "and with Brian and Bill the differences between the two sides of my music are bridged. That was a real revelation to me in the studio, to be able to go between instrumental music and these songs that I thought of as country songs. But the fun was that we approached them the same way."

—Jeff Tamarkin is the associate editor of JazzTimes magazine.

This concert and the Shape of Jazz series are made possible by The Joyce and George Wein Foundation in memory of Joyce Wein.

Presented by Carnegie Hall in partnership with Absolutely Live Entertainment LLC.
This performance is part of The Shape of Jazz.

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