Maria Schneider Orchestra
Sky Blue (ArtistShare)
Maria Schneider’s decision to take her CD releases out of the established distribution system and throw her lot in with ArtistShare paid rich dividends when her 2004 recording Concert in the Garden became the first disc to win a Grammy award with no in-store distribution. This latest disc is also available (as a nicely packaged physical CD) only from her website at www. mariaschneider.com.
Anyone who saw her work with the SNJO in 2001 will know that she is a hugely gifted composer for jazz big band, with a contemporary approach to musical colour and texture that genuinely advances the medium. The five new works on the disc have a generally slow, spacious feel (‘Cerulean Skies’ builds up a head of steam, but isn’t really up-tempo), and are impeccably played by her regular band, with fine solo contributions from another former SNJO collaborator, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and saxophonists Scott Robinson and Steve Wilson, among others. Recommended.