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What 'Data Lords' says about the remarkable career of Maria Schneider / theartsfuse

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"The sun and everything in this world is there waiting for us-patiently and loyally. To feel its power, we just need to make the choice to get up, go out, look up and connect to its magnificence." That is really, truly, there in the music.

Someone once wrote of the Beatles that it is incredibly rare for the most experimental artists in a genre to also be the most popular. "Popular" is of course a relative term in jazz-alas, we do not yet live in the utopian world where the police are called out for crowd control and ambulances are standing by when the Maria Schneider Orchestra disembarks from airplanes. But Schneider has been at the top of readers' and critics' polls in the jazz magazines for Best Big Band, Best Arranger, and Best Composer for over twenty years now. She has a devoted following for her live club dates in New York, increasingly rare as she has happily shot herself in the foot by helping to make her musicians much more famous and expensive.

There are many justifiably popular jazz composers and arrangers out there. What's remarkable about Schneider is that, like Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, and Gil Evans before her, she has altered our perception of what a big band can sound like. And she has done it by developing a singular voice and style. It's difficult to recommend a single Schneider record, in the same way that it would be difficult to recommend a single Ellington disc. I recommend her new release Data Lords, but even more urgently I'm recommending her entire discography. It's within the context of her whole career that Data Lords is best understood, so I'm taking the long way around in this review in hopes that you'll fill up your shopping cart when you order Data Lords at artistshare.com.

The premise of Data Lords is that the two discs represent the two worlds we now live in: "The Digital World" and "Our Natural World." The uncredited poem in the liner notes lays out the contrasts and sets the agenda for the music: