Maria Schneider & Dawn Upshaw's new Album Winter Morning Walks

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I was happy to receive, from Max Horowitz (who’s doing pr for the cd) the new collaboration album Winter Morning Walks (2 cd’s, Artist Share).    The cd is an artist-owned collective based in New York. I was also surprised, happily so, to see that the large project, featuring not one but two orchestras, had been fan-funded through ArtistShare..   Dawn Upshaw is a McArthur Fellow, Schneider a multiple Grammy winner, and Dawn Upshaw is up there at the top of all current mezzo-sopranos.  She sang on Henryk Gorecki’s million-selling Symphony #3, and no one could ever forget what she did on that luminous middle movement.  I guess the ArtistShare fan-funding thing comes from a desire for musical independence, the fact that this is expensive music to produce, and of course the state of the record industry today.

51RQx0X6yUL._AA160_Schneider composed all the music, Dawn sings all the solo parts.  There are two orchestras, The Australian Chamber Orchestra backs nine pieces, while the remaining five parts feature the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.   Jazz musicians on the project include Jay Anderson (bass), Frank Kimbrough (piano), and Scott Robinson (alto & bass clarinet).  The first nine cuts feature poetry by Ted Kooser, the last five have texts by the great Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade.

Maria Schneider’s biggest influences were also her gurus, Gil Evans and Bob Brookmeyer.   I also detect the presence of Samuel Barber’s Knoxville Summer of 1915, as well as Vince Mendoza’s beautiful writing.  Like Mendoza, it’s a beautiful and synchronous blend of classical and jazz.  Dawn Upshaw has never sounded better than on this new work.  It’s a labor of love, prodigious talent, and joy.

This isn’t my favorite cut on the cd, but it shows you the cast of musicians who made it happen.

….and here is Maria Schneider talking about the genesis of the album……