Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Jenny Scheinman and Robbie Fulks at Barbes, Brooklyn NY 7/14/09

Even for a cutting-edge jazz musician, violinist Jenny Scheinman‘s stylistic repertoire is considerably diverse. Tuesday night at Barbes (yeah, that’s awhile ago, but we’re playing catchup from when the computers crashed here at LCHQ) she teamed up with alt-country pioneer Robbie Fulks for a show imbued as much with wit as with dazzling chops.

For all Scheinman’s frequently plaintive, haunting, often atmospheric instrumental work, she reminded how much fun she can be. Fulks made a particularly good choice of sparring partner. While he’s an equally spectacular musician with adrenalizing chops whether playing country or jazzy, western swing-tinged stuff, this time out he left most of instrumental alchemy in Scheinman’s hands. Thankfully, he didn’t do any of his Michael Jackson covers – Fulks plays a mean, completely tongue-in-cheek Billy Jean, and seems to know pretty much everything else on Thriller. As they usually do, they took turns, alternating between each others’ songs. The opener was a pretty, Appalachian-flavored country dance instrumental, followed by a typically playful yet biting Fulks number, The World Is Full of Pretty Girls (and Pretty Girls Are Full of Themselves). At the end, the pretty girl in question ends up going off with Neko Case – not only is she a head case, she’s been playing for the other team all along! He also contributed an amusingly country cover by Hee Haw’s Grandpa Jones.

Fulks remains as defiantly retro as ever. “Let’s fill every hole in their shag carpet,” he said sardonically to Scheinman, a dig at modern recording technique and the use of subsonics on most corporate music (Fulks and Scheinman inhabit a considerably higher place, both sonically and artistically). Then they launched into a sultry country blues featuring some particularly intense staccato playing by Scheinman. This was obviously her show (she doubtlessly introduced Fulks to the joint), and this time out she made her mark most indelibly not as composer or soloist but as a lyricist. A country traveling ballad was considerably wistful, followed by a vividly apocalyptic California narrative where it’s impossible to tell the hippies from the rednecks and a bale of cocaine washes up and then sinks in the lagoon. Scheinman’s going to be a very cool mom someday soon – guessing in about three months – and she introduced what she said was her first pregnancy-inspired song, a poignant country number called The Littlest Prisoner, told from the point of view of a smalltime drug user about to have her baby in prison, and then undoubtedly have it snatched from her. Scheinman and Fulks have been playing once or twice a month at Barbes over the last few months; this is a most intimate way to enjoy the work of a couple of artists who rightfully play much bigger venues.

July 18, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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