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'Data Lords' is Maria Schneider's best collection to date / All About Jazz

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The skillfully designed cover art tells part of the story; a leaf-half as nature intended-the remainder, a circuit board doppelganger. The pastoral soundscapes associated with the music of Grammy-winning composer/bandleader Maria Schneider belie her activist alter-ego. An outspoken critic of copyright protections, prejudicial revenue schemes and the abuses of "big data," Schneider has authored op-eds and testified before the US Congress. She ventures onto unfamiliar terrain, coalescing her passions on a masterwork double album, Data Lords.

The two discs are respectively designated as "The Digital World" and "Our Natural World" and the first CD opens with the ominous "A World Lost." 

Schneider found her inspiration to take a larger risk in working briefly with David Bowie on his final studio album Blackstar (ISO Records, 2016). The post-production version of the single "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)" caught Schneider off guard but also opened her mind to new ideas. Data Lords was commissioned by the Library of Congress and premiered at the Library in 2016. Schneider has described the project as "very dark, chaotic, and intense." By comparison to her other releases, it's true but that account shouldn't be off-putting to her fans. Data Lords is often gorgeous and always intriguing. It is Schneider's best collection to date and sure to end up on most of the appropriate year-end lists. This is intoxicating music and highly recommended.