Stories » The auteurist and activist impulses of Maria Schneider's expansive jazz comes together on 'Data Lords' / The Nation

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The auteurist and activist impulses of Maria Schneider's expansive jazz comes together on 'Data Lords' / The Nation

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There have been two Maria Schneiders in the cultural arena-or three, counting the late French actor from Last Tango in Paris-until now. The first is an internationally esteemed composer and conductor, the recipient of five Grammy Awards and 12 nominations for jazz and classical works lauded for their luxurious beauty, enveloping warmth, and connectedness to the natural world. The second is a fiery political activist, an advocate of musicians' rights and a critic of tech companies, who has organized creative artists in resistance to the oppressive practices of Google and YouTube. Both Maria Schneiders have inhabited the same body but at different times: one by night, onstage in concert halls and jazz clubs around the world, the other by day, at lecterns at universities and behind a microphone at congressional hearings.

The two Maria Schneiders have inched closer and closer in recent years, with the composer taking advantage of funding from the Library of Congress to experiment with music on the themes of the activist Schneider's work. I first heard the product of that commission, an 11-minute instrumental piece called "Data Lords," in a club show by the Maria Schneider Orchestra, the 18-piece ensemble she has led since 1992, at the Jazz Standard in New York City two years ago. I was stunned-jolted and baffled and thrilled in a way I can compare only to the first night I walked into CBGB and saw Richard Hell and the Voidoids or the first time I experienced Cecil Taylor at the Village Vanguard. With the exception of one song she arranged for another artist, nothing I had ever heard from Schneider prepared me for the dark, cerebral fury of "Data Lords," and I had been paying close attention to the Maria Schneider Orchestra since the '90s, when I went almost every Monday night to the group's weekly residency at a little jazz club called Visiones in Greenwich Village.   PhotoCredit_Briene_Lermitte

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