The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, DIVA Swings Broadway Review
by: Staten Lemee
The DIVA Jazz Orchestra has released its next swinging album, DIVA Swings Broadway. Sherrie Maricle is the Musical Director from the drum set as she leads the big band through re-imagined arrangements of Broadway classics. Broadway musicals have been the source of many notable jazz standards, and this album continues the DIVA tradition of re-imagining great songs. The nine selections on this recording were commissioned to highlight the power, force, and beauty of The DIVA Jazz Orchestra’s ensemble sound and feature its exceptional soloists.
“Heart,” from the Damn Yankees, opens the recording with the perfectly executed ensemble playing of the DIVA Jazz Orchestra. Splendidly arranged by Steven Feifke, the arrangement follows in the footsteps of the great big band predecessors, Count Basie and Buddy Rich Band in particular, and the ensemble injects their own energetic and playful personalities into the mix. The band swings hard as Roxy Coss takes a thrilling tenor saxophone solo. The impressive solo works of trumpeter Jami Dauber and trombonist Jennifer Krupa follow with their own beautiful statements. The ensemble’s playing is richly expressive and brilliantly captures the energy of the well-written Broadway tune.
“The Sound of Music” is an arrangement by Leigh Pilzer in which she re-imagines this Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II into a relaxed, playful feel. The tempo allows the big band to bring out the lyricism in the melody and add plenty of style. There are plenty of passionately expressive movements, and you will not come away from hearing this without being impressed. The solos are Tomoko Ohno on the piano and Noriko Ueda on bass. Also, Pilzer performs a rousing solo on her baritone saxophone.
After hearing DIVA Swings Broadway, there is no questioning the DIVA Big Band’s sincerity and serious commitment to swing. The joy this big band performs with is evident, and it takes an understanding of style and orchestration to re-imagination an exciting set of Broadway tunes. DIVA is successful in doing this and balances and contrasts the melodies with fresh sounds. You will enjoy this set of excellent big band playing and writing.