The DIVA Jazz Orchestra 25th Anniversary Project (ArtistShare)
It has been a quarter of a century since Buddy Rich’s manager and relief drummer Stanley Kay found himself conducting a band whose drummer was young Sherrie Maricle. Intrigued by her playing, Kay set out to find whether there were other women jazz musicians of comparable talent. There were. DIVA was soon born and has been an important big band ever since. Its longtime leader, Maricle has booked the band into Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York City on Thursday, March 29, to celebrate the anniversary and release the anniversary album.
Pre-release listening confirms the band’s strength across all sections, and the instrumental skill and gusto of the soloists. Maricle assigned ten of the instrumentalists, including her, to compose and arrange new pieces in observance of the anniversary.
A few of the album’s many impressive moments:
• Arranger Leigh Pizer’s incorporation of a spontaneous-sounding, carefully written, trombone-baritone saxophone duet in the opening “East Coast Andy.”
• Jami Dauber’s trumpet solo on the same piece.
• Trumpeters Barbara Longora and Liesl Whitaker facing off in contrasting solos on Longora’s “Jami’s Tune,” which has 1920s implications without being dated.
• The album’s ballad, “Forever In My Heart,” written by Maricle, with moving solos by flugelhornist Rachel Therrien, bassist Noriko Euda and pianist Tomoko Ohno.
• Maricle’s drum fills and solo on her powerful piece “The Rhythm Changes.”
Not with a composition by a DIVA member, but playing a piece that may be familiar, here’s the band at Birdland with Ms. Ohno prominent in the proceeding.
Stanley Kay knew that he was hearing someone special that night in 1993. DIVA commemorates his essential role in the band’s history with another recent album, named in his honor.