This study assesses twenty-five works by contemporary jazz composer Maria Schneider, tracking her compositional tendencies, identifying areas of continuity with the big-band arranging tradition, and capturing developments and idiosyncrasies apparent in her music. Schneider most often modifies the prototypical big-band arrangement by merging the solo section with the ensemble feature, resulting in a trademark “Solo-Recapitulation trajectory,” which creates a deep-level structure comprising three “Spaces.” “Space division criteria” capture how broad expectations for jazz performance affect listeners’ experiences of Schneider’s compositions. Spaces often comprise more than one “section,” a formal unit at a shallower structural level; the Space division criteria differentiate sectional divisions internal to a single Space from divisions at the boundaries between Spaces. An overview of the corpus data summarizes the sectional makeup of each of the twenty-two normative pieces. Formal and hermeneutical accounts of three deviational pieces demonstrate the flexibility and expressive potential of the system. A retrofit of the formal framework onto thirteen notable big-band arrangements by Schneider’s contemporaries and direct predecessors shows that the Solo-Recapitulation trajectory does not appear in these pieces, suggesting that Schneider may have pioneered the approach.

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