The Diva Jazz Orchestra: Swings Broadway

All-female orchestra, co-formed in 1992 by drummer Sherrie Maricle, gives some famous show tunes a thorough workout

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The Diva Jazz Orchestra was founded by Stanley Kay who had been the relief drummer for Buddy Rich in the 1940s whenever the great man wanted to sing and dance out in front of the band. In 1992, thoroughly impressed by drummer Sherrie Maricle (and who wouldn’t be?), he collaborated with her in forming a 15-piece ensemble of hugely talented performers who just happened to be women.

Broadway shows have inspired countless jazz albums over the years and here we have selections from Oklahoma! (1943) to Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2013) with salutes to The Sound Of Music, Damn Yankees, My Fair Lady and The Music Man from the 50s along the way.

Heart introduces three of the band’s stellar cast of soloists and the sunny optimism of the lyric (not heard here of course) is reflected in some inventive choruses from Roxy Coss (tenor), Jami Dauber (trumpet) and Jennifer Krupa (trombone). With Every Breath I Take is a feature for the mightily impressive Sara Jacovino who gets a sound that recalls the great Frank Rosolino but without Frank’s dramatic harmonic gymnastics.

Sherrie Maricle recorded Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ in 2009 on Never Never Land with the Diva Jazz Trio. Bassist Noriko Ueda has expanded the chart to include an expertly performed saxophone soli along with some dancing samba rhythms. It also features some well structured and melodic statements from Tomoko Ohno (piano), Rachel Therrien (flugelhorn) and Laura Dreyer (tenor).

As expected, Seventy-Six Trombones has the trombone section (Jennifer Krupa, Sara Jacovino and Leslie Havens) front and centre and Ms Havens on bass trombone proves to be exceptionally light on her feet. Get Me To The Church is an exciting outing for Mercedes Beckman and Alexa Tarantino on altos who stand toe-to-toe on an exciting chart that storms along at 60 bpm.

Discography
(1) Heart; (2) Pure Imagination; (1) The Man I Love; With Every Breath I Take; The Sound Of Music; (2) Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’; (1) Seventy-Six Trombones; Love Who You Love; Get Me To The Church On Time (61.31)
(1) Liesl Whitaker, Jami Dauber, Rachel Therrien, Barbara Laronga (t, flh); Jennifer Krupa, Sara Jacovino (tb); Leslie Havens (btb); Alexa Tarantino (as, ss, f); Roxy Coss (ts, cl); Laura Dreyer (ss, ts, cl); Leigh Pilzer (bar, bcl, f, cl); Tomoko Ohno (p); Noriko Ueda (b); Sherrie Maricle (d). Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, 30 November & 1 December 2021.
(2) as (1) add Annette Aguilar (pc).
Diva Jazz DCD2022