Stories » Set to debut on HBO, 'The Last Five Years' delves into David Bowie - Maria Schneider collaboration / RollingStone

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Set to debut on HBO, 'The Last Five Years' delves into David Bowie - Maria Schneider collaboration / RollingStone

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Francis Whately's documentary The Last Five Years, which debuts January 8th on HBO, takes a close look at David Bowie's final recorded documents, The Next Day and Blackstar. Instead of the usual procession of famous talking heads that appear in most music docs, the portrait quizzes his close collaborators on these last two albums – producer Tony Visconti, graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook, composer Maria Schneider and the Donny McCaslin-fronted jazz outfit that played on Blackstar. 

Visconti argues that Bowie's passion for jazz was always present in his music "below the surface," so it made sense for the singer to connect with Maria Schneider, a highly decorated jazz composer, arranger and pianist. "When I heard her compositions, it was everything David and I loved about big band music: That it's discordant and strange and ethereal," Visconti explains. The Bowie-Schneider partnership led to the collaboration "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)," and some of the backing musicians on that recording – the Donny McCaslin Band – subsequently became Bowie's backing group for Blackstar. "This band were trained jazz musicians, so we had more colors to the palette," Visconti says.

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