featuring Jenny Scheinman and Allison Miller
When: Wednesday, June 5
Where: Spoonbar, 219 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg
Two seatings: 6:30 (music at 7) and 8:30 (music at 9)
Cost: $68 includes show, dinner, tax and gratuity.
Tickets available from spoonbar.com.
Event sponsor: Rodney Strong Vineyards
Parlour Game may not be a supergroup according to the strict definition of the word. But in terms of sound, vision, and chemistry, Parlour Game is undeniably a supergroup. That’s what you get when you combine four virtuoso jazz artists who would each tell you that “jazz” may be too narrow of a descriptor. Sure, it’s jazz because that’s the skill set musicians need to access any musical world they choose. They could sit in with Wayne Shorter, play Debussy, or entertain folks at a hoedown. So then, what is the musical world of Parlour Game?
The band name suggests play, which you could say is the operating principle of the two bandleaders: violinist Jenny Scheinman and drummer Allison Miller. Each of them has pursued a remarkably eclectic career. Brought up in rural California by parents who escaped the bustle of New York, Jenny has performed in some of the most experimental improv groups of that city in addition to lending her rustic-to-abstract fiddling skills to pop artists like Lou Reed, Ani Difranco, and Lucinda Williams. Allison, a percussion storyteller who combines melodic intricacy with the sheer bop fury of Art Blakey, has buoyed artists from organ master Dr. Lonnie Smith to rock star Natalie Merchant.
A low-level competitive spirit animates Jenny and Allison, actively goaded by Parlour Game’s other two players, bassist Tony Scherr and pianist Carmen Staaf. Tony may be best known for his frequent collaborations with guitarist Bill Frisell, whose tendency toward roaming afield is checked by Tony’s unerring ability to stay on the root. Tony’s joyous playing in Parlour Game keeps everything floating and anchored at the same time.
The real surprise of the band, though, might be Carmen, who you can tell has spent some time listening to rhythm-and-blues masters like James Booker and Ray Charles. Carmen, who also plays with Allison in the bands Boom-Tic-Boom and Science Fair, won the Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition in 2009 and currently serves as the pianist and musical director for the legendary singer and NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater. Carmen is a lush player electrified by the blues. In Parlour Game, melody – undergirded by simmering rhythm – is paramount. The indescribable chemistry that suffuses the four players is the magical ingredient that lets you know, as soon as the first notes hit, that you are in for a ride.