Maria Schneider: Cerulean Skies


Cerulean Skies


Maria Schneider Orchestra


Sky Blue (ArtistShare 0065)

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Steve Wilson (reeds), Charles Pillow (reeds), Rich Perry (reeds), Donny McCaslin (reeds), Scott Robinson (reeds), Tony Kadleck (trumpet, flugelhorn), Jason Carder (trumpet, flugelhorn), Laurie Frink (trumpet, flugelhorn), Ingrid Jensen (trumpet, flugelhorn), Keith O'Quinn (trombone), Ryan Keberle (trombone), Marshall Gilkes (trombone), George Flynn (bass trombone, contrabass trombone), Ben Monder (guitar), Frank Kimbrough (piano), Jay Anderson (bass), Clarence Penn (drums), Gary Versace (accordion), Luciana Souza (accordion),

Gonzalo Grau (percussion), Jon Wilan (percussion)


Composed, arranged and conducted by Maria Schneider


Recorded: New York, January 6-9, 2007


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

We have come to expect grand things from Maria Schneider, and she delivers again on "Cerulean Skies" -- a 22-minute track that shows off the full range of her aural palette. Where do we focus on this large canvas? At the splashes of ambient sound? At the big, broad strokes full of color and life? At the clash and clang of intersecting forces? I can't remember when I last heard a jazz piece with so many dramatic changes in mood and tone. Schneider starts with a sparse minimalist framework and in the course of three minutes erects one of those big, Coplandesque melodies that she seems to draw at will from her orchestra. But then she gradually brings down the energy level, and midway through the performance we find ourselves in the middle of an ethereal conversation between accordion and piano, with just the barest scent of support from the band. Then Schneider builds again, texture upon texture, drawing out all the drama in her melodic material; and finally bringing in Luciana Souza's voice, but almost as a horn line, with the purity of an instrument among other instruments. I have heard hot jazz and cool jazz, fast jazz and slow jazz, but this is majestic jazz.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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