Since violinist Jenny Scheinman relocated to New York from the Bay Area, her career has been gaining momentum, not least through appearances with the likes of Bill Frisell, Norah Jones, and Vinicius Cantuaria. Now, with the imprimatur of John Zorn's Tzadik label, Scheinman presents her take on "radical Jewish culture" with The Rabbi's Lover, leading a quintet with Russ Johnson on trumpet, Adam Levy on guitar, Greg Cohen or Trevor Dunn on bass, and Kenny Wollesen on drums. The program consists of four full-length originals, three shorter vignettes, and two traditional pieces, all infused with sensuousness and eclectic daring. "The Shofar Place," a longer, modern cut inspired by a line from Paul Celan, is a high point. Other strong selections include the defiantly exuberant "Dance Party 1929," the quasi-classical sketch "Rafi's Song," and the klezmer theme "Seating of the Bride," which somehow sounds equally Polish, Spanish, and Italian. In her notes, Scheinman reveals that she played the second klezmer piece, "Firn de Mekhutonim Aheym," at the burial of her father, who was chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials -- a "radical" connection to Jewishness indeed.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler