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Maria Schneider - Data Lords is a major piece of work / theartsdesk

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It is five years since Maria Schneider's The Thompson Fields was released – and hailed as a masterpiece – so this new two-disc set has been eagerly awaited. It doesn't disappoint. Data Lords is a major piece of work. This "story of two worlds" as the album's strap-line has it, is two contrasting albums which inhabit very different emotional territory.

The first of the two is entitled The Digital World. For many years, Maria Schneider has been an assiduous, forthright and highly articulate defender of the rights of creators in the face of the land-grab by the data companies. It is a subject on which she has testified in front of the US's Congressional Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. "Musicians have been the canary in the coal mine," she says. "We were the first to be used and traded for data." This is a very deeply held and life-long conviction for Schneider. Her father was an inventor employed by the Kimberly-Clark corporation, so the company owned every single one of his inventions. "So I was very aware" she has said, "of what it meant for a man to create something and have pride in his inventions. I grew up with that."

After three complete listens, this is an album which, it feels, is only just starting to reveal its two-fold essence.  The album, released today, will deservedly be at or near the top of the jazz year-end lists Thoroughly recommended.

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