Bruce Cockburn, Jenny Scheinman | City Winery | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader
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Jenny Scheinman

Jenny Scheinman

Bruce Cockburn, Jenny Scheinman 

When: Sun., Aug. 10, 8 p.m. and Mon., Aug. 11, 8 p.m. 2014
A few years ago you couldn’t be sure which Jenny Scheinman you’d get when she rolled into town for a concert. She started as a jazz violinist, balancing a lyric sensibility with a knack for wide-open improvisation. But over the past decade she’s worked with the likes of guitarist Bill Frisell and cornetist Ron Miles, who incorporate the rusticity and twang of Americana into their melodic strain of jazz. I don’t know if they rubbed off on her, but she began gravitating toward country music in the late aughts, writing and singing songs in the genre and playing shows with Chicago’s Robbie Fulks. In 2008 she released a dazzling pair of albums, one focusing on singer-songwriter material, the other devoted to instrumental jazz. Her new record, The Littlest Prisoner (Sony Masterworks), stands firmly on singer-songwriter turf, but its brief instrumental interludes incorporate improvisation on their simple themes. On violin Scheinman demonstrates a jazzlike rapport in her spontaneous interactions with Frisell’s moody guitar and Brian Blade’s coloristic drumming, though her songs are meticulously constructed to contain this small degree of freedom. She taps into the spirit of old-time murder ballads on “Run Run Run,” where she sings, “Cedar and pine are pretty, boy, cedar and pine smell strong / Cedar and pine boxes about six feet tall,” and on the contemporary folk-rock tune “Brother” she longs for a romantic connection that’s as deep-rooted and unwavering as a blood relation. Bruce Cockburn, who plays guitar on the title track of The Littlest Prisoner, headlines. —Peter Margasak Sunday's show is sold out.
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