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Jazzy New Year

Ring in 2013 with world-class musicians
Jenny Scheinman

When Jenny Scheinman draws her bow across her fiddle strings Friday, Jan. 4, she’ll be the least famous member of the trio she’s leading at The Shedd. The other two musicians have graced that stage often as composers/bandleaders themselves. Seattle-based guitar master Bill Frisell remains one of the world’s most venturesome yet listener-friendly musicians, while Louisiana native Brian Blade is one of jazz’s most accomplished and inventive drummers. Although Scheinman has cut seven albums on her own, the Northern California-born, Brooklyn-based, DownBeat-award winning violinist, arranger and composer has also been overshadowed in her side-woman roles with other luminaries as diverse as Bruce Cockburn, Jason Moran and Lucinda Williams. As you might expect with such a versatile and varied resume, Scheinman’s own enticing music spans the spectrum from rock to jazz to funk to folk while somehow always sounding original. Plus, any show with Frisell is always worth seeing. 

The Shedd continues its charge into the new year with another jazz gem next Friday — but it’s not at The Shedd itself. Instead, a bigger stage — in fact, the biggest in town — beckons for a big-time concert by an all-star lineup of some of the finest jazzers blowing today. On Jan. 11, veteran performers from one of America’s greatest musical institutions, the Monterey Jazz Festival, alight at the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall in the Eugene stop on their North American tour celebrating the festival’s 55th anniversary. Ever since Dave Brubeck and legendary San Francisco jazz deejay Jimmy Lyons started the festival in 1958, it’s been a beacon for West Coast jazz. Hard to match that opening lineup, which along with Brubeck included Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Modern Jazz Quartet and more. But any one of this year’s stars — the great singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, bassist and musical director Christian McBride, sparkling pianist Benny Green, drummer Lewis Nash, superb saxophonist Chris Potter and brilliant young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire — would be a worthy headliner at The Shedd or any other jazz venue. Together, they’re the best jazz show of the new year, and a real coup for The Shedd and the city.

It’s really turning into a jazzy new year around town, because that same night features a concert at the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall, featuring jazz pianist David Cutler. Abetted by Svetlana Kotova and Julia Lin, the composer/author (The Savvy Musician)/conductor/consultant/entrepreneur/professor (at University of South Carolina), Cutler plays his original jazz and contemporary classical compositions — including a two-piano suite that traverses Mardi Gras, techno, minimalism and bluegrass music. 

Finally, for an unusual musical treat to top off the holiday season and literally ring in the new year, check out the Jan. 6 installment of First United Methodist Church’s Concerts at First, a Twelfth Night of Christmas performance that includes handbell choirs and guests guitarist David Rogers and didgeridoo virtuoso Todd Johnson. The free afternoon concert at 13th and Olive accepts donations for Food for Lane County and for the musicians.