Days of Wine and Roses
The Maria Schneider Orchestra's Days of Wine and Roses, recorded live in 2000, was originally issued in a package with two bottles of von Buhl's "Maria Schneider Selection" Riesling, but the bizarre hodgepodge of laws governing the interstate sale of wine made distribution problematic. Now Schneider has reissued it sans vino through her Web site, mariaschneider.com, and while the absence of wine is always to be lamented, the performances on Days of Wine and Roses are plenty intoxicating on their own.
Many of the compositions and arrangements here were written in Schneider's early days and for other ensembles, but they all display the exceptional taste, care and joy of her later work. Her orchestra makes all these pieces their own, playing with fantastic ensemble and righteous verve whether caressing the slow lament of "The Willow" or delivering a blistering wind-up to the first chorus on "Bird Count." Its members deliver some fantastic solos--first among equals on this disc are Charles Willow teasing the melody of "Over the Rainbow" and flugelhornist Greg Gisbert ripping through his changes on "My Ideal." The late David Baker, who engineered the recording, secured clear, crisp sound--with a glass in your hand, it's just like you were there.