Jenny Scheinman / Shalagaster

Album cover: And yet ambiguous Tzadik photo Jenny Scheinman

Tzadik TZ7709, 2004


Different from her first Tzadik album, Jenny Scheinman's new "Shalagaster" is not on the "Radical Jewish Music" label, rather it appears as "folk jazz" on the "Oracles" label. This may be an acknowledgement of how much broader her musical explorations have become, or how much those elements of this album that are Jewish are simply one component among others. In truth, on this album, even the explicitly-named "Nigun" is more a nigun in feel, than because of melody or Hasidic feel.

There is a much stronger ensemble feel to "Shalagaster" than to the first album. Lyrical and expressive slow violin explorations are still front and center. But trumpet and keyboards have more space in which to participate than was true of the ensemble on "The Rabbi's Lover."

As was the case on the first album, this is thoughtful, intriguing, exploring jazz. The opening sheets of sound, slowly folding into rhythm and melody, "Into the Clearing" exemplify Scheinman's approach. The interplay between violin and piano on "Tango for Luna" is comfortable, yet fresh and new. On "Wiseacre" the two create a childlike sense of fun. Later, in the male segment of "American Dipper" the piano provides a dischordant chording that lightly reminds me of some of Laurie Anderson's work. On "Zeynebim" Wollesen's percussion frames the most "oriental" sounding of the pieces here. It is easy to visualize a room of dancers slowly moving in a circle, powerfully and deliberately.

Scheinman's ability to create interesting textures, and then to pull the listener in, farther and further, is what gives this album its depth. As on her previous album, Kenny Wolleson's drums, along with Trevor Dunn on bass anchor it all perfectly. As with much good music, I'm not sure what it is Scheinman is creating, but I really enjoy listening to it. The textures, rhythms, and in particular the lyrical guitar work make for a special, listenable fusion between jazz and experimental music. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 4/25/04

Personnel this recording:
Jenny Scheinman: violin
Myra Melford: piano/harmonium
Russ Johnson: trumpet
Trevor Dunn: bass
Kenny Wolleson: drums


  1. Into the clearing (Jenny Scheinman) 2:02
  2. American dipper (female) (Jenny Scheinman) 5:58
  3. Tango for Luna (Jenny Scheinman) 4:35
  4. Milk bottle (Jenny Scheinman) 4:57
  5. The lucky hum (Jenny Scheinman) 4:54;
  6. Wiseacre (Jenny Scheinman) 2:26
  7. New view of the horse (Jenny Scheinman) 8:22
  8. American dipper (male) (Jenny Scheinman) 6:28
  9. Nigun (Jenny Scheinman) 4:16
  10. Zeynebim (Ismet Siral/interlude: Jenny Scheinman) 4:24
  11. See through (Jenny Scheinman) 3:46

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