THE RONNIE SCOTT’S JAZZ ORCHESTRA CONDUCTED BY MARIA SCHNEIDER | London, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

Maria Schneider has made a name for herself as a blurrer of lines between genres, herself among the few to have received Grammys in both jazz and classical categories. Conducting the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, she takes a trip down memory lane, reviving her own epic-length compositions in this tight, 70-minute set. There’s something slightly funny about an exclusively male line-up, in this female-led evening, but, well, plus ça change.

Opening with “Wyrgly” (1994) is a bold move: it calls for insanely tight, syncopated stabs and swells on all horns, which, like a miracle, the band achieve flawlessly. The set closes with “Hang Gliding” (2000), a remarkable piece that ebbs and flows in and out of tonal harmony, all the while with rhythmic piano gently undulating.

A series of lengthy solos by all members of the band defines the repertoire — often serving as extended counter-melodies to Schneider’s harmonically-led compositions. Film noir-esque “Gumba Blue” (1994) features an amazing bebop-influenced trumpet solo from Ryan Quigley, and Adrian Revell gives his own right-through-the-wringer romantic interpretation of the classic “Over The Rainbow” in a full song-length solo. “A Potter’s Song” (2015) features Karen Street on a blissful accordion solo: why not?

The Lorenzo De Finti Quartet provide some beautiful support with a 45-minute set from their album Love Unknown (2018). Within minimalist frameworks, pianist and composer De Finti’s transportive music takes flight, especially with Matthias Spillmann’s trumpet and flugelhorn. For those who like their contemporary jazz to be rich and well-crafted, this evening’s brief dip will leave you wanting more.

Maria Schneider’s has a 3-day residency at Ronnie Scott’s, 3-5 July 2019.

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