Coming About

COMPOSERS: Maria Schneider
LABELS: Enja
ALBUM TITLE: Maria Schneider
PERFORMER: Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra
CATALOGUE NO: ENJ-9069 2 (distr. New Note)

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The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra has held the Monday night residency at Visiones in Greenwich Village for some while now. It is an intoxicating experience to witness. Schneider’s compositions are elusive and the textures she devises wholly original.

Her first album, Evanescence (1994), captured the spirit of the band perfectly. Schneider’s sure handling of form and structure, her use of frequently changing metres, her ease in developing extended forms, her highly personal orchestral colours, her use of vertical voicings and her rich melodic logic revealed a composer and arranger of stunning scope.

Despite her youthful appearance, Schneider has packed an impressive amount of experience into her career. She graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 1985 and moved to New York to study with Bob Brookmeyer. Soon her arrangements were being performed by the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, while an introduction to Gil Evans resulted in her becoming his assistant for the last three years of his life.

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Her orchestrations have frequently been compared to those of Evans, but Schneider is more concerned with form, structure and changing metre, as her ambitious three-part Scenes from Childhood suite reveals. Equally, ‘El Viento’, a skilful blending of colour and structure, is quite unlike anything else attempted by a jazz orchestra. SN