Jenny Scheinman / The Rabbi's Lover

Album cover: Another ambiguous Tzadik painting Jenny Scheinman
The Rabbi's Lover

Tzadik TZ7165, 2002


Opening with a gentle, terkish riff and exploring on from there, Jenny Scheinman's first CD is a delight of Jewish-tinged jazz and experimental music. A couple of songs are adaptations of traditional Jewish wedding fare (klezmer). Occasionally, as on "The shofar place" there are hints of Ashkenazic prayer. Her violin is lyrical, especially lyrical. "Motherlap", described in the liner notes by a fragment from Kadya Molodovsky, is a lovely poem, a gentle introduction and accompaniment to the work of a notable Yiddish woman poet and writer. "The Burro" is a nicely evocative tone poem with a minimalist accompaniment.

There are only a few moments of especial intensity, as at the climax of "The shofar place." The Tzadik downtown backup of Greg Cohen on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums gives the album familiar grounding. Adam Levy's guitar and Russ Johnson's trumpet are also excellent.

Like the best of other Tzadik albums, this CD is difficult to categorize, always interesting to listen to or to hear, and very steeped in Jewish roots. In a time of change, being Jewishly rooted and being able to transform the gestalt of time and place in to something identifiably Jewish, matters. Sometimes, it is hard to say what the source is. "Diaspora metaphor" could probably speak as directly to Irish music as to Jewish, although it is something else. It is the new fusions worth looking for, like this album, that keep me listening to new music.

I think of this result as jazz: rhythmic, changing, swinging. It is a quieter album than many, but no less passionate for that. Her "Firn de mekhutonim aheym" carries all the melancholy of a party that is over. The liner notes connect it, and several pieces to the Holocaust and its memory. Yet this is not an album tied only to the past

"The Rabbi's Lover is twenty years younger than the Rabbi and because of her perfect androgyny, people often take her for the Rabbi's son. She accompanies the Rabbi to weddings and although she rarely speaks, her magnetic warmth gives those who feel adrift within Judaism a sense of belonging. Thjis suite is not a portrait of The Rabbi's Lover, but songs inspired by her."

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 4/25/04

Personnel this recording:
Jenny Scheinman: violin
Russ Johnson: trumpet
Adam Levy: guitar
Greg Cohen: bass
Kenny Wolleson: drums

Trevor Dunn: bass (replaces Cohen on tracks 2, 5)


  1. The Rabbi's Lover (Jenny Scheinman) 6:23
  2. Dance party 1929 (Jenny Scheinman) 5:24
  3. Seating of the bride (trad.) 5:55
  4. Firn de mekhutonim aheym (trad.) 4:38
  5. The Shofar place (Jenny Scheinman) 8:24
  6. Rafi's song (Jenny Scheinman) 2:14
  7. Diaspora metaphor (Jenny Scheinman) 1:20
  8. Motherlap (Jenny Scheinman) 6:12
  9. The burro (Jenny Scheinman) 2:20

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