Maria Schneider Orchestra

Sky Blue | artistShare
By JON GARELICK  |  August 7, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
Schneider made history of sorts by winning a Grammy for 2004’s Concert in the Garden on the upstart Web-only artistShare label, and this album exhibits all her hallmarks. Schneider’s is true orchestral music, not “big band.” Here she has as many as 21 pieces, including voice, and the group sound even bigger — not because of volume, but because of her voicings of stacked harmonies across a broad palette of tone colors. It’s very much vertical music: long-toned melodies, vast extended chords that build and sustain. Except for “Aires de Lando,” which is based on the Peruvian lando dance rhythm, there’s not a lot of forward propulsion. Instead, solos from the likes of saxophonists Rich Perry and Donny McCaslin and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen provide rhythmic agitation amid the slow-moving themes in the ensemble. The music’s design and execution are impressive, and for some, the infinite space of the 21:56 “Cerulean Skies” won’t be roomy enough; others may be happier with the minor-key dance figures clarinettist Scott Robinson spins over the lando rhythm, or the moments when the pastel clouds clear for a simple lament from Gary Versace’s accordion.

Maria Schneider Orchestra | Tanglewood Jazz Festival, 297 West St, Lenox | September 2 | 888.266.1200
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