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Big band leader Maria Schneider employs a simple formula on Live at the Jazz Standard: beautiful, multi-hued, and layered arrangements plus first-rate instrumentalists equals a vibrant modern big band session. This is not to say that the music is simple; anything but. Rather, the musicians' fluidity makes the set come across as effortless, while Schneider's approach strikes a fine balance between the big band imperatives of arranging and soloing.
In fact, one of the most exciting aspects to this reissue of a January 2000 recording, previously not widely available, is the seemingly free rein accorded to the soloists throughout, most notably Tim Ries (soprano), Charles Pillow (alto), Scott Robinson (baritone), and Greg Gisbert (flugelhorn).
Most of the cuts are between seven and ten minutes long and Schneider does not keep soloists on a short leash. On some numbers, such as "My Ideal and "Começar de Novo, the soloists (Gisbert and Ries, respectively) seem to guide the piece from start to finish, with no shortage of interesting ideas.
The set is an interesting mix of Schneider's compositionssome of which impressively date from her student years at the Eastman conservatorytogether with American songbook classics like the Henry Mancini title track, Harold Arlen's "That Old Black Magic (a particularly propulsive arrangement), and "Over the Rainbow. The latter illustrates Schneider's ability to take an evergreen and make it captivatingly unfamiliar, flirting with the famous melody, coloring it with unexpected harmonies.
Track Listing: Lately; The Willow; That Old Black Magic; My Ideal; Last Season; Começar de Novo; Days of
Wine and Roses; Over the Rainbow; Bird Count.
Personnel: Tim Ries: alto, soprano, clarinet and flute; Charles Pillow: alto, soprano, clarinet and flute; Rich Perry: tenor sax and flute; Rick Margitza: tenor sax and flute; Scott Robinson: baritone and bass saxes, clarinet and bass clarinet, clarinet and flute; Tony Kadleck: trumpet and fluegelhorn; Greg Gisbert: trumpet and fluegelhorn; Laurie Frink: trumpet and fluegelhorn; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet and fluegelhorn; Keith O'Quinn: trombone; Rock Ciccarone: trombone; Larry Farrell: trombone; George Flynn: bass trombone; Ben Monder: guitar; Frank Kimbrough: piano; Tony Scherr: bass; Tim Horner: drums.