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Music Review: DIVA Jazz Orchestra – ’25th Anniversary Project’

Led by music director/drummer Sherrie Maricle, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra generates the gaiety and precision found historically in traditional big band orchestras. With an eye towards today’s progressive sound and originality, DIVA is a band in flux. The orchestra performs all over the world, playing contemporary and mainstream big band jazz. First and foremost, their compositions and arrangements fit the individual personalities and styles of its players. The inspiration for DIVA comes from Stanley Kay, a one-time manager and relief drummer for Buddy Rich. The foundation for DIVA was launched in June 1992. What emerged is a dynamic musical force that has plowed forward to the present day.

Their most recent release, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra’s 25th Anniversary Project, was preceded by their critically-acclaimed Special Kay. To honor DIVA’s 25-year history and the legacy of Kay, the band’s founder, Maricle embarked on the task of asking eight other band members each to compose and arrange an original piece of music. The goal is to commemorate this significant milestone by having 10 composers in the band, writing for the band and helping to forge DIVA’s style and sound. The CD is a one-of-a-kind opportunity, making it the first all-original offering.

The brass and woodwind sections come blazing out of the gate on “East Coast Andy” to start the release. They brandish all the glitz and massive sound of traditional big band outfits. In addition, the subdued chatter of the horns cruising along “Middleground” wields an elegance that’s conducive to after-hour clubs. The slow roasting wails of the horns pondering pensively across “Seesaw” are cinched by Noriko Ueda’s billowing bass. Conversely, the marching cadence of the horns dotting “Jami’s Tune” withdraw to a cool jazz strut along “A Quarter Past.” The tracks each bear a nightclub setting.

Since DIVA’s premiere performance over 25 years ago on March 30, 1993 at New York University, the band has toured the world to critical and popular acclaim. The group has made several notable television and film appearances. Hence, the orchestra has performed on the soundtrack for NBC’s 2014 Macy’s Firework Spectacular. Additionally, it has appeared in the award-winning documentary film The Girls in the Band. Most noteworthy, the group has made multiple appearances on CNN’s show Arts Break and recorded a segment on CBS Sunday Morning. Likewise, it took part in musical features for The Kennedy Center’s 25th Anniversary Special.

DIVA has also played for the Japanese television network NHK and Metropol TV in Germany. It’s the orchestra’s mission to continue to evolve their dynamic and precise sound, especially through the exceptional individual talent within the band. Most of all, it looks to the extraordinary composers and arrangers within the band for grist to make memorable instrumentals.

Musicians:
Sherrie Maricle – music director and drummer; Noriko Ueda – bass; Tomoko Ohno – piano; Leslie Havens – bass trombone; Sara Jacovino – trombone; Jennifer Krupa – trombone; Rachel Therrien – trumpet and flugelhorn; Barbara Laronga – trumpet and flugelhorn; Jami Dauber – trumpet, flugelhorn, and manager; Liesl Whitaker – trumpet and flugelhorn; Leigh Pilzer – baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; Erica von Kleist – tenor saxophone; Janelle Reichman – tenor saxophone and clarinet; Mercedes Beckman – alto saxophone, flute, and clarinet; Alexa Tarantino – alto saxophone and soprano saxophone

About susanfrancesny

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in eastern Long Island.

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