Maria Schneider has become one of the top women in instrumental jazz, honored with four different awards last year from the Jazz Journalists Association: Jazz Album of the Year for her previous big band CD “Concert in the Garden” [Reviewed Here}, Jazz Composer of the Year, Jazz Arranger of the Year, and Large Ensemble of the Year. The Minnesota-born musician studied at the Eastman School of Music and afterwards with Bob Brookmeyer and Gil Evans. Days of Wine and Roses is dedicated to her recording engineer David Baker, who died shortly after recording her previous album. It was recorded live to two-track and benefits from the excitement plus freedom from unnatural spotlighting which such a procedure usually produces. Ms. Schneider states in the notes that this is “our unmanipulated, un-retouched portrait of the band just as David caught it in January 2000.” The 18-member band includes such familiar soloist names as reedman Tim Ries, trombonist Larry Farrell and pianist Frank Kimbrough (a couple fine piano trio discs on MapleShade).
This outing is different from Concert in the Garden in that it is made up mainly of earlier compositions and arrangements by Schneider – including some from her studies at the East School 20 years ago. Since the older arrangements were made before the existence of her present band, she recently customized them to fit her own soloists – just as Ellington did with the writing for his band. She also mentions the pleasure of working with Toots Thielemans, who originally suggested she arrange several of the tunes on this disc – including the title number. Schneider writes of “when collectively we all felt the band breathe as one and carry us off the ground.” I would say there’s quite a few of those experiences packed into this extraordinary big band disc. [It is available only at the ArtistShare.com web site, along with discs from many other great jazz artists using this intelligent distribution means.]
Tunes: Lately, The Willow, That Old Black Magic, My Ideal, Last Season, Comecar de Novo, Days of Wine and Roses, Over the Rainbow, Bird Count.
– John Henry