Jazz composer Maria Schneider lives in the kind of small New York City apartment that you can't imagine her ever leaving. It's old and warm and crammed with beloved books and things of a life imaginatively lived, notably, of course, an upright piano, covered just now with scores.
On this spring morning, the western sun pours over a cracked window sill and a medley of unruly house plants, illuminating a series of fantastically strange gothic paintings of vaguely identifiable Midwestern icons like grain elevators and farm machinery, done by Schneider's sister Kate. Aren't they bleak?" Schneider says with a huge smile.
Schneider, diminutive and ebullient as a dance-hall pianist, eschews a venerable chair and sits on her dark wood floor and lovingly recites by heart a poem by Ted Kooser. It goes like this:
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