Howard Mandel has a very nice feature on Maria Schneider. I admire its construction: various topics run through it, picked up and dropped at various points along the way. It seems a little odd at first, but by the end of the article, you can see that Mandel was thinking of the big picture from the beginning.
He depicts the contemporary studio situation - almost virtual, even though everyone is physically present:
Three trumpets, four trombones and five saxophonists -- most of them behind stands of flutes, clarinets, double-reeds and other extra horns -- faced SchneiderPerhaps I'm too touchy, but I flinched when I read this:
Guitarist Ben Monder sat off to the side of the horns on a folding chair, not-so-idly stroking his instrument, though he wasn't audible. His amp, in a hallway, fed directly into the mix board run by engineer Joe Ferla.
A singer was sequestered out of sight, and trumpet soloist Ingrid Jensen played in a glass-enclosed room, a fair throw behind the other horns. As for the missing rhythm section: Pianist Frank Kimbrough and bassist Jay Anderson shared a separation booth, and drummer Clarence Penn played in another one, so no bleed-through would impinge on final mixes of renditions of the complicated charts.
All the musicians wore earphones to hear the ensemble sound, and they had some control over what they heard in those phones. But only Schneider seemed in a position to have eye contact with everyone... except the singer
And whether in the studio or on the concert stage, she attends to her music and musicians more like a perfect hostess than a commander-in-chief, insuring that everyone has a good time as the way to make a well-planned party a memorable successWell, she is a woman, after all.
It seems to me that Schneider's college-age awakening to jazz is very common, even among musicians, though perhaps not always so extreme. Well, I guess one can't really be expected to grow up with this music any more (I didn't, not really):
I didn't even know that jazz developed beyond swing until I went to college. I didn't know. I had some Teddy Wilson, I had some old Ellington. I thought that jazz basically had died.
All of a sudden I discovered several decades of jazz music that I hadn't heard. Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Mingus, Monk. I was crazy for George Russell, Bob Brookmeyer's music when he did 'Make Me Smile.' I heard all these amazing jazz musicians who used contemporary techniques. Gil Evans' music -- the intricacies of Ravel or Debussy together with the emotion and spontaneity of somebody like Miles, and the raw rhythm and stuff.