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Diva: A Swingin' Life

Richard J Salvucci By

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Back in 1967, Buddy Rich was one of the headliners on a summer replacement television broadcast for "The Jackie Gleason Show." If I remember correctly, the show's theme, which Rich and the band did was "Away We Go." It was subsequently released on a Pacific Jazz record The New One. Why is it that the opening track on Diva's most recent recording A Swingin' Life reminds me of that recording? It's not because Sherrie Maricle is in the Buddy Rich mold. She's some drummer, to be sure, but maybe more like one in the Woody Herman Orchestra from the 1960s, like Jake Hanna or Ronnie Zito. The drummer's behind the band, not the other way around

From the first downbeat of the opening track, "What the World Needs Now," Maricle's—and the band's—swing and authority are evident. Maybe a better title for the CD would have been "No Nonsense," but I know nothing about marketing. It's always hard to pick favorites, especially on a live recording that features singers like Nancy Wilson and Marlena Shaw. The band sounds great behind Nancy Wilson on "All of Me," old war-horse or not, just flat out swinging. "Blackberry Winter," which I had never heard before, done by Marlena Shaw, is probably not much recorded because it sounds tough on a singer, but this one is haunting all the same. Of the instrumentals, two picks. One is Terry Gibbs "Blues for Hamp," the closing track in which Roxy Coss, Jennifer Krupa and Tanya Darby take hot solos to Maricle's insistent rhythmic (and vocal) prodding. For sheer beauty, it's hard to beat "The Very Thought of You," which features an absolutely gorgeous flugelhorn solo by Nadje Noorduis. I know little about her other than I could listen to her play all day. "Pennies from Heaven," which showcases Noriko Ueda and Lisa Parrott is another good one, but you have to stop somewhere.

All in all, the choice of material is perhaps a tad conservative, but that takes nothing away from some seriously impressive performances. It's been some time since I've heard Diva perform in person. This CD tells me I need to again. And soon.

Track Listing: What The World Need Now Is Love; Nothin'; All My Tomorrows; All of Me; The Very Thought of You; Pennies From Heaven; Blues Medley [Goin' To Chicago Blues; Kansas City; Every Day I Have the Blues]; Blackberry Winter; Wonder Why; Nocturne #6 Opus9, Number 2; Blues For Hamp.

Personnel: Sherrie Maricle: drums; Sharel Cassity: alto saxophone, flute; Karoline Strassmayer: alto saxophone (3, 4); Leigh Pilzer: alto saxophone, flute, baritone saxophone (3, 4); Kristy Norter: alto saxophone (3, 4); Janelle Reichman: clarinet, tenor saxophone (3, 4); Anat Cohen: clarinet, tenor saxophone (3, 4); Roxy Coss: tenor saxophone; Scheila Gonzalez: tenor saxophone (3, 4); Lisa Parrott: baritone saxophone; Tanya Darby: lead trumpet, Flugelhorn; Liesl Whitaker: lead trumpet (3, 4); Jami Dauber: trumpet , Flugelhorn; Barbara Laronga: trumpet (3, 4); Carol Morgan: trumpet, Flugelhorn; Nadje Noordhuis: trumpet, Flugelhorn; Deborah Weisz: trombone; Jennifer Krupa: trombone; Lori Stuntz: trombone (3, 4); Leslie Havens: bass trombone; Tomoko Ohno: piano; Chihiro Yamanaka: piano (3, 4); Noriko Ueda: bass; Nancy Wilson: vocals (3, 4); Marlena Shaw: vocals (7, 8, 9).

Title: A Swingin' Life | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: MCG Jazz

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