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Few would debate composer/arranger and big band leader, Maria Schneider's significance to the world of jazz. A true stylist who possesses a gifted ear, an equally impressive pen and a penchant for extracting the very best out of her band mates, Schneider has three recordings to her credit which includes this highly anticipated new release, titled Allegresse.
In the liners, Schneider states..."For this recording I wanted to create music that conveys beauty." An accurate statement indeed as the overall production encompasses luminous, poetic themes and expressive horn charts. These characteristics become noticeably evident from the onset of the album's opener, "Hang Gliding." Here, the orchestral arrangement evokes imagery of a tiptoe waltz amid climactic developments and mild tempered choruses whereas, the title track combines linear motifs with arched lines atop velvety statements by trumpeter Ingrid Jensen who also performs on flugelhorn.
Schneider also exhibits an acute capacity for integrating space and depth into her arrangements which comes to the forefront on the twenty-minute opus "Dissolutio," as underlying melodies generate stark emotion, humble sentiment and fiery proclamations. The album's closer, "Sea Of Tranquility," boasts a breezy understated arrangement counterbalanced by baritone saxophonist Scott Robinson's soul induced lines.
Basically, Schneider triumphs as a purveyor of beauty, through song, along with a deeply personalized and seemingly unyielding commitment to her craft. Allegresse is the complete package and should be deemed essential listening for ardent fans of orchestral/big band music or jazz lovers alike.
Track Listing: Hang Gliding; Nocturne; Allegresse; Dissolution; Journey Home; Sea Of Tranquility.
Personnel: Maria Schneider: composer, conductor; Tim Ries: saxes, clarinet, flutes; Charles Pillow: saxes, clarinet, flute, piccolo, oboe, English horn; Rich Perry: tenor sax, flute; Rick Margitza: saxes, flute; Scott Robinson: saxes, clarinets, flutes; Tony Kadleck: trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn; Greg Gisbert: trumpet, flugelhorn; Laurie Frink: trumpet; flugelhorn; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Ballou': trumpet, flugelhorn; Keith O' Quinn: trombone; Rock Ciccarone: trombone; Larry Farrell: trombone; George Flynn: bass trombone, tuba; Ben Monder: guitars; Frank Kimbrough: piano; Tony Scherr: basses; Tim Horner: drums; Jeff Ballard: percussion.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.