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Maria Schneider’s writing for orchestra has often reflected her passions as an environmentalist. This was most pointedly expressed on her 2015 album, The Thompson Fields, a poignant look back at the farmland around her rural Minnesota childhood home and a threatened habitat for the migrating monarch butterfly. The recently released Data Lords tackles a central conflict of our age on two discs, one titled “The Digital World” and the other, “Our Natural World.”It would be easy to assume that one disc would be full of discordant, assaultive ugliness, the other a balm of consonant beauty — a simple duality of good vs. evil. But Schneider is too sophisticated a composer for such oversimplifications. So Disc One’s “CQ CQ Is Anybody There?” evokes the evolution of the first binary electronic language, Morse Code, in its stuttering rhythms and salute to early ham radio operators seeking connectivity; in this case, tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin represents the human voice confronting the AI personified by Greg Gisbert’s trumpet electronics. “Sputnik,” with an eloquent solo by baritone saxophonist Scott Robinson, portrays the hope embodied in early space exploration. “Don’t Be Evil” barges into Google’s corporate board room, with Ryan Keberle’s stentorian trombone swallowed by the blare of a slow brass band parade march quoting “Taps.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfwTkhy_YxY On Disc Two, the brass chorale accompanying a stroll through a Japanese temple garden on “Sanzenin”; the conversational birdlike phrases of “Stone Song”; and the uncanny lyricism of accordionist Gary Versace on “Bluebird,” return listeners to the natural world with no loss of drama.Schneider spells out the programmatic content in detailed liner notes, but what hits the ear is her skill as a composer. There are none of the set pieces for soloist and rhythm section of conventional big band writing. Instead, every solo statement is woven into a tapestry of orchestral sound as each piece unfolds. The opening “A World Lost,” for example, builds from a simple, foreboding chordal backdrop laid down by pianist Frank Kimbrough that wends through Ben Monder’s long-lined guitar solo and Rich Perry’s searching tenor — a long arc of music beautifully sustained.— Jon Garelick