Rebels all, Jenny Scheinman’s elite quartet of improvisers negotiate her eight sinuous and indelibly lyrical originals with carefree joy, jaunty giddiness and plucky valor – creating a delightful jazz/not jazz piece of art that defies easy categorization. While the violinist’s melodies serve as the center of gravity, she and guitarist Nels Cline (a spirited jazz star who was enlisted by Wilco to orchestrate its music), bassist Todd Sickafoose (a mainstay in Ani DiFranco‘s band) and drummer Jim Black (a New York Downtown jazz vet) collaborate on a journey-like story that at turns rocks and muses, drives and grooves, shreds and calms. Cline with his electronics expertise and Black with his unpredictable drum voicings create the radiant sonic textures that allow Scheinman, who bows with both a frenzy and a beauty as well as plays pizzicato percussively, to entwine with her band mates as well as float above. On the 43-plus-minute adventure, she goes uptempo in her tribute to the Malian guitar great Ali Farka TourÃ© (“Ali Farka TouchÃ©” that opens and closes with Cline’s trance loops) and fantasizes driving the PCH with PJ Harvey on the buoyant “A Ride With Polly Jean.” She slackens the pace with the mysterious “Sand Dipper” and descends into a subterranean soundscape on with the eerie-to-dynamic “Devil’s Ink.” Mischief & Mayhem may not fit the normal jazz mode, but its contrarian and playful outlook pretty much fits right in with the jazz way of free thinking – and playing.
By Peter Blackstock on 09.26.11 in Icons
It's a tribute to leader Jeff Tweedy's enduring commitment to artistic rebirth and reinvention that one could listen to Wilco's 1995 debut A.M. and its Grammy-winning 2004 album A Ghost Is Born back to back and have no i...
By Richard Gehr on 11.25.14 in Reviews
You probably know Nels Cline as the 58-year-old lead guitarist in Wilco. Julian Lage is equally familiar in the jazz world for being, among other things, the subject of Jules at Eight, a 1997 documentary short about the...
By Seth Colter Walls on 04.29.14 in Reviews
As both the current lead guitarist for Wilco and a member of the contemporary jazz elite, Nels Cline occupies the curious dual role of avant-garde instrumentalist and rock star. It could be an awkward fit, but Cline seem...
By Dave Sumner on 06.21.13 in Reviews
Guitarist Bill Frisell has spent a career making strange and beautiful music, following creative paths that connect genre points that include jazz, but often travel far and wide from that spot. Over the last handful of y...