Desert Island Jazz
Maria Schneider (2002)

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Maria Schneider’s music has been described as evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and beyond categorization. Born in Windom, Minnesota, Schneider arrived in New York City in 1985 after studies at the University of Minnesota, the University of Miami and the Eastman School of Music. She immediately sought out Bob Brookmeyer to study composition, and at the same time became an assistant to Gil Evans, working on various projects with him.

The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra came into being in 1993, appearing at Visiones in Greenwich Village every Monday night for a stretch of five years. Subsequently, her orchestra has performed at festivals and concert halls across Europe as well as in Brazil and Macau. She’s received numerous commissions and invites with American and Europeans orchestras, guest conducting in Brazil, Italy, Portugal, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Canada, Scotland, Australia, Greenland and Iceland, as well as across the U.S. Commissions include the Norrbotten Big Band’s and Danish Radio Orchestra’s commission to arrange and conduct concerts with Toots Thielemans. Other commissioning organizations include the Metropole Orchestra, Stuttgart Jazz Orchestra, Orchestre National de Jazz (Recapitulation), Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra (El Viento), Monterey Jazz Festival (Scenes from Childhood), University of Miami Concert Jazz Band (Three Romances), Hunter College (Concert in the Garden and Sky Blue), Jazz at Lincoln Center (Bulería, Soleá y Rumba), Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (Aires de Lando) and Peter Sellars’ New Crowned Hope Festival (Cerulean Skies). Maria was also the recipient of a Doris Duke award to compose a dance work (Dissolution) in collaboration with the Pilobolus dance group. It was performed with her orchestra at the American Dance Festival and Kennedy Center.

Schneider has had a distinguished recording career as well. Her debut recording Evanescence, was nominated for two 1995 Grammy Awards. Her second and third recordings Coming About and Allégresse were also nominated for Grammys. Her third album, Allégresse was chosen by both TIME and BILLBOARD in their Top Ten Recordings of 2000, inclusive of all genres of music.

Concert in the Garden, released only through her website (an ArtistShare® site), was a watershed in her career when she won the 2005 Grammy Award for “Best Large Ensemble Album” and became the first Grammy-winning recording with Internet-only sales. It also received “Jazz Album of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Awards and the DOWNBEAT Critics Poll. Both also awarded her “Composer of the Year” and “Arranger of the Year,” and the Jazz Journalists also named her group, “Large Jazz Ensemble of the Year.”

Her newest fan-funded ArtistShare® recording, Sky Blue, was released in July 2007 and since its release, the album has received unanimous praise. It was nominated for two Grammy Awards, winning one in the category of “Best Instrumental Composition” (Cerulean Skies). The album received the honor of “Jazz Album of the Year” from the VILLAGE VOICE Critics Poll as well as a Choc Award in France and was one of only two albums to receive a five-star review from DOWNBEAT in 2007.

"She now has become entrenched among the ranks of America's leading composers. ... For Schneider, the question is no longer whether she can sustain the heights she has attained on earlier recordings; it is now how far her musical journey will take her." – DOWNBEAT * * * * *

“...some of the most graceful, naturally flowing orchestral settings she's ever written.” – THE IRISH TIMES

“Twenty-one musicians of tremendous technical sophistication and emotional energy channel their talents through the direction of the most significant big-band jazz composer of our time.” – THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

"It seemed impossible for Schneider top her Grammy-winning Concert in the Garden, but she's done just that with Sky Blue. She has elevated her music to a seemingly impossible height. ... Cerulean Skies” is the masterpiece within a masterpiece, ... Magnificent. A magical work of art, from beginning to end." – ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM

"...she puts together stories that speak with the clarity of Ernest Hemingway and the musical grace of Aaron Copland." – PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW

"...among the most arresting, accomplished music of the new century." – THE OTTAWA CITIZEN
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 A Velhea Guarda de Portela (The Old Guard of Portela) Portela Passado de Gloria Desenguado (Disillusion) (import)
# 2 Egberto Gismonti Infância A Fala da Paixão (She Speaks of Passion) (ECM)
# 3 João Gilberto Amoroso / Brazil Besame Mucho (Warner Archives)
# 4 Paco de Lucia Zyryab Soniquete (Verve)
# 5 Bill Evans Waltz for Debby I Loves You, Porgy (OJC)
# 6 Miles Davis with Gil Evans Porgy and Bess Summertime (Columbia)
# 7 Toots Thielmans Brasil Project Começar de Novo (To Start Again) (Private Music)
         
Book Sanaya Roman, "Living with Joy"
         
Luxury Item A Steinway grand piano
Alternate Picks/Not Broadcast
Alt 1 Maurice Ravel Martha Argerich with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Claudio Abbado Piano Concerto in G Major (Deutsche Grammophon)
Alt 2 Shirley Horn You Won't Forget Me N/A (Verve)
Alt 3 Miles Davis with Gil Evans Sketches of Spain N/A (Columbia)
Alt 4 Simon and Garfunkel Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Scarborough Fair (Columbia)
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