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Jenny Scheinman: Mischief & Mayhem

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Jenny Scheinman always makes her next move a guessing game. The mercurial fiddler telegraphed this one when her Mischief & Mayhem quartet played the Village Vanguard in July 2010, adjourning to a Brooklyn recording studio with guitarist Nels Cline, bassist Todd Sickafoose and percussionist Jim Black right after their weeklong stint at the fabled club. M&M doesn’t reprise the vocal prowess of Scheinman’s eponymous CD of 2008 and eschews the jazziness of Crossing the Field. Peaks of mayhem are in rockin’ or Mahavishnu modes, with Scheinman and Cline acting as the swashbuckling protagonists, occasionally multitracked.

Opening the set, “A Ride With Polly Jean” (named for PJ Harvey) weds the soaring spirituality of Birds of Fire with the bubbling plasticity of Bitches Brew. “The Audit,” written as an anodyne during an IRS visitation, is the most quiescent of Scheinman’s meditations. While Cline and Scheinman don’t specifically echo John McLaughlin and Jerry Goodman, their chemistry and fervor in “Sand Dipper” and “Devil’s Ink” certainly yield the sort of wildness minted by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, with Black figuring prominently in the out-of-time intros.

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