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Maria Schneider makes her own magic on The Thompson Fields

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You could say that Maria Schneider, the multi-Grammy-winning big-band leader, composer and arranger, takes care of business to support her distinctive, nuance-filled art. No more so than in promoting The Thompson Fields, a sound-colour tour de force for 19 musicians, many of whom have played with her since she started her orchestra in 1993.

Her eighth album, which took almost a decade to produce, is a $200,000 production - huge for jazz - supported mainly by fans contributing to the unique ArtistShare label. On her busily creative website, she previewed The Thompson Fields, with four of its compositions commissioned directly by ArtistShare's "donor-participants."

While the work was in progress, Schneider gave potential donors much to look forward to: "The pieces range from being descriptive of the open landscape of my home in southwest Minnesota, to being inspired by the first time I heard a samba school rehearse in Rio," she wrote on ArtistShare's website before the album's release in June.

"As the project develops, we will be keeping you, the participant, involved through videos, audio clips, photos, downloads and more. I hope you'll find it fun, interesting and exciting as I take you on the path of making this record."