For a quarter of a century now, Maria Schneider has been the world’s most respected jazz composer and arranger. Her music is “evocative, magnificent, magical, stunning, imaginative, revealing, enchanting, daring and – beyond any categorization”, the critics say. After earning a master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music, she was an assistant to Gil Evans, and in 1992, she formed her orchestra with talents from the New York scene – more than half of which took part in recording her current album Data Lords (saxophonists Donny McCaslin, Rich Perry and Scott Robinson, trumpeters Greg Gisbert and Tim Hagans, trombonists Keith O’Quinn and George Flynn, guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Jay Anderson, and the late pianist Frank Kimbrough), something unprecedented in orchestral jazz.
She won 7 Grammys and 14 nominations for this award, as well as won several dozen titles in the annual critics poll of DownBeat magazine and the Jazz Times in various categories. Her Concert in the Garden (2004), which got her first Grammy, is the first album in the history of that award sold exclusively online. She is also the holder of two of this year’s Grammys, for the Best Instrumental Composition (“Sputnik”) and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. She also won a record-breaking four Jazz Journalists Association titles this year – for Album of the Year, Best Composer and Arranger, and Orchestra. She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Minnesota and the title of NEA Jazz Master (2019), American most important institutional recognition in the field of jazz.
Subway Jazz Orchestra (Cologne)
Founded in 2013, the Subway Jazz Orchestra sees itself as a platform for composers and arrangers of diverse approaches, presenting new programs every month at the Subway Club in Cologne. They perform music by their members, contemporary artists from the German and international scene (this year, they also organized a competition for new pieces by young composers), and themed programs with music by classic jazz authors. They strive towards contemporary jazz of the highest level, crossing genres and creative concepts. The band members are well-established musicians from the local scene, who gained experience in the radio orchestras of HR, NDR and WDR. In addition to engaging in the Jazzim-Subway series, the orchestra has performed at the JOE Jazz (Essen), SummerKLAENG (Cologne) and Moers Jazz (Moers) festivals. Among the renowned artists with whom they collaborated are Frank Gratkowski, Seamus Blake, Nils Wogram, Wanja Slavin, Loren Stillman, Jesse van Ruller, Tamara Lukasheva and Hayden Chisholm, among others.
The Subway Jazz Orchestra has recorded four albums so far – Primal Scream (2015), State of Mind (2016), Richbeck Suite (2018) and Still Screaming (2020). Three albums were released by the Cologne-based Float Music label and one by the Swiss Unit Records. Tobias Wember wrote the compositions for the second and third albums, and the orchestra’s saxophone section members, Stefan Karl Schmid, Johannes Ludwig and Jens Böckamp, wrote several pieces for the other two works, among others.
Stefan Karl Schmid
Rainer Böhm – piano
Philipp Brämswig – guitar
Laurent Derache – accordion
Matthias Akeo Nowak – bass
Fabian Arends – drums