JazzTimes

THE YEAR IN REVIEW 2020: TOP 50 CRITICS’ PICKS

1 Maria Schneider Orchestra Data Lords (ArtistShare)

y now, jazz fans have come to expect marvels from Maria Schneider, but the scale and magnificence of is exceptional even for her. A concept album split into two spheres, it wrestles with the key conflict of our time: the alluring, empty promises of “The Digital World” versus the calming, nourishing beauty of “The Natural World.” It’s not hard to guess which side Schneider is pulling for, but this is less a polemic than a portrait, and the soundscapes she paints are as wonderfully detailed as any she’s composed. Even as “Don’t Be Evil” evokes Google’s techno-menace through towering trumpets and growling bass trombone, it’s hard not to be awed by the beauty of the writing. Likewise, it’s both thrilling and horrifying stands as a pointed reminder of just how much can be said with a jazz orchestra.

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