Thursday, October 26, 2006

Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra - Coming About (1996)

Composer, Arranger, Conductor: Maria Schneider
Woodwinds: Mark Vinci, Tim Ries, Rich Perry, Rick Margitza, Scott Robinson, Charles Pillow
Trumpets: Tony Kadleck, Greg Gisbert, Laurie Frink, Tim Hagans
Trombones: Keith O'Quinn, rock Ciccarone, Larry Farrell, George Flynn
Rhythm: Ben Monder (guitar), Frank Kimbrogh (piano), Tony Scherr (bass), Tim Horner (drums)

1. El Viento
2. Love Theme from "Spartacus"
Scenes from Childhood
3. Part 1: Bombshelter Beast
4. Part 2: Night Watchman
5. Part 3: Coming About
6. Giant Steps
7. Waxwing

Partial Liner Notes:

Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson made their first important big-band recordings seventy years ago, back when Calvin Coolidge was in the White House and Charlie Parker was in short pants. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. Big bands are still around, and still as musically vital as they were in 1926 - but they don't sound the same. The dance-oriented bands of the '30s and '40s are now a thing of the distant past. Today's big bands perform in clubs and concert halls, and their music is for listening, not dancing, so much so that a growing number of musicians prefer to call them "jazz orchestras." No matter what you call them, though, there's something about the sound of large jazz bands that continues to make audiences sit up and take notice, and causes composers to grab for their pens. That's why seventeen of New York's top jazz musicians get together every Monday night at Visiones, a New York nightclub, to play the music of Maria Schneider. They could be making better money doing almost anything else, from recording jingles to doing clinics. But Monday nights at Visiones aren't about money: they're about music. So is this CD.

If you've been to Visiones to hear the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra - or if you've heard Evanescence, the band's 1994 debut album for ENJA - you won't be surprised to learn that Coming About is no ordinary big-band record. You won't hear any blues in D flat, or standard-issue flagwavers with a shot chorus tacked on at the end. The centerpiece, 'Scenes from Childhood,' is a suite in three movements that begins with the angry howl of air-raid sirens (simulated on a theremin by baritone saxophonist Scott Robinson) and ends, half an hour later, with iridescent clouds of sound that shimmer into silence. It is one of the most ambitious jazz compositions heard on record in years, and it makes perfect sense when you look at Maria's resumé: she studied composition with Bob Brookmeyer, and spent three years as Gil Evans' musical assistant. From Brookmeyer, she learned how to create large-scale musical structures that add up to more than just a string of solos; from Evans, she learned how to blend instrumental colors with a Ravel-like precision and clarity.

1 comment:

six-by-six said...