231

Maria Schneider Orchestra Live in Troy, N.Y.

R.J. DeLuke By

Sign in to view read count
She got lost in the solos and grinned and nodded. For sure, her musicians were presenting sounds that pleased her, that brought her music to life.
Maria Schneider is both painter and aural poet, able to provide the listener with a variety of textures, tempos, feelings and facets in her music. Her compositions, moreover, are presented by a superb collection of musicians, as evidenced during her Feb. 9 concert at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, N.Y.

Her band toured Europe and South America last year, an endeavor that admittedly tired Schneider, who said before the concert that she had natural misgivings about embarking on tours: "I just want to quit. Then we make music and I say, 'This is so great.' It's like childbirth. You forget." She added, "It's the same thing when I make an album."

But from the start of the performance, which showcased music from an array of her albums, including the Grammy-winning Concert in the Garden, it was evident Schneider was in a creative artist's special place, conducting, smiling. She got lost in the solos, and grinned and nodded. For sure, her musicians were presenting sounds that pleased her, that brought her music to life. It also was apparent that she enjoyed the historic Music Hall, known for its fine acoustics.

Starting with "Evanescence, the title cut from her 1995 album, and running through two sets that ended with "Hang Gliding, the orchestra was in top form. But the hero was unmistakably Schneider, from whose heart and mind came the melodies and harmonies, and whose passion comprised the breath and breadth of the music.

Evanescence started softly and dreamlike, as was the case in many segments though the evening. But Schneider knows how to contrast the intricate gentleness with a more hard-edged complexity and intensity. By the time the excellent trumpeter Tim Hagans went from serene to impassioned in his solo, the pattern for the rest of the piece was set. "El Viento (The Wind) was flowing and swirling, the 17 musicians under Schneider, her true instrument, creating music with a fresh looseness and openness, the parts not as significant as the whole. When Donny McCaslin's sax entered, it spewed gusts with energy and frenzy. If his voice was the wind, it was saying "you can't contain me. Clarence Penn's drums, here and elsewhere, were central not only to the pulse but the sound, the music of nature.

Sky Blue, the title cut from an album to be released in June, featured Steve Wilson on soprano sax, displaying a beautiful tone and unfailing creativity on the instrument, over the delicate support of the ensemble, which at one time featured all the brass on flugelhorn plus the four winds behind Wilson on tenor sax, flute, clarinet and bass clarinet. It was a song of emotion and deep sentiment; sweet but not saccharin. "Green Piece, featuring Scott Robinson on baritone sax and Frank Kimbrough on piano, was rich with wondrous textures, showing the multi-hued palette Schneider paints from, with colors that stretch from her hometown of Windom, Minn., to New York City, where she's lived for the last two decades.

From Concert in the Garden the composer-conductor selected a suite of three Latin-tinged movements ("Choro Dancado, "Pas de Deux, and "Danca Ilusoria ), the presentation of each as exquisite as the scoring was fresh. The closer was a piece of memorable, lingering beauty. "Hang Gliding, which featured the cool and melodic flugelhorn of Tony Kadleck and McCaslin's hot tenor, depicted the personal story of Schneider's hang-gliding experience in Brazil. It proved moving and joyous, leaving the listener with a blissful feeling of freedom. McCaslin was exuberant, soaring, and just a tad funky; Penn was the push of the wind.

A magnificent show. Yet, in the case of this extraordinary artist, typical of her work and her spirit.


Shop

More Articles

Read Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read Kronos Festival 2017 Live Reviews Kronos Festival 2017
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Helsinki Festival 2016" Live Reviews Helsinki Festival 2016
by Anthony Shaw
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Belgrade Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Belgrade Jazz Festival 2016
by Thomas Conrad
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Electric Hot Tuna at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center" Live Reviews Electric Hot Tuna at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center
by Doug Collette
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Miles Electric Band at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Miles Electric Band at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: June 26, 2016
Read "John Daversa Big Band at The Baked Potato" Live Reviews John Daversa Big Band at The Baked Potato
by Paul Naser
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "Vocalist Sinne Eeg at Chris’ Jazz Cafe" Live Reviews Vocalist Sinne Eeg at Chris’ Jazz Cafe
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!