4

DIVA: A Swingin' Life

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
As if being the premier all-female big band on the planet weren't enough, DIVA has enlisted the services of two purebred divas—Nancy Wilson and Marlena Shaw—to enrich its latest album, A Swingin' Life, recorded live at Pittsburgh's Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (November 2011) and Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center (September 2012).

Wilson and Shaw are more than window dressing, giving their all on five of the album's eleven numbers. Wilson brings out the best in Sammy Cahn / Jimmy van Heusen's b-level standard, "All My Tomorrows," and the far more congenial (and swinging) "All of Me," while Shaw, whose magnetism is reminiscent of the great Joe Williams, is similarly captivating on a hard-driving blues medley (Goin' to Chicago / Kansas City / Every Day I Have the Blues), Alec Wilder / Loonis McGlohon's dreamy "Blackberry Winter" and the luminous ballad "Wonder Why," once so tastefully sung by Billy Eskstine. Wilson's vocals were recorded at MCG, everything else at Dizzy's.

DIVA, for its part, weighs in with half a dozen galvanic instrumentals, starting with Burt Bacharach / Hal David's "What the World Needs Now," which showcases the first of several dazzling soloists, tenor saxophonist Janelle Reichman . Reichman is featured again (on clarinet) with trumpeter Jami Dauber on "Nothin,'" a buoyant romp written by the ensemble's founder and guiding light for many years, the late Stanley Kay. The rhythm section, overseen as it has been from the band's beginning by drummer Sherrie Maricle and including pianist Tomoko Ohno and bassist Noriko Ueda, is sharp and responsive here, as it is throughout, and especially on the flag-wavers ("What the World Needs Now," "Nothin,'" "Pennies from Heaven," "Blues for Hamp" and, believe it or not, Fredric Chopin's "Nocturne #6, Opus 9, No. 2," neatly rescored by Ueda and featuring Ohno's lissome piano). For an unintended chuckle, the jacket lists the Chopin composition, which later became the pop tune "We Have the Right to Love Again," as having been written by "Louis Clark, Chopin." Couldn't Fredric at least have earned top billing?

Besides those already named, DIVA's first-rate soloists include flugel Nadje Noordhuis (Ray Noble's "The Very Thought of You"), Ueda and baritone Lisa Parrott ("Pennies from Heaven"), pianist Chihiro Yamanaka ("All of Me"), tenor Roxy Cross, trombonist Jennifer Krupa and trumpeter Tanya Darby (Terry Gibbs' Basic-like "Blues for Hamp," which closes the album). Dauber solos on the blues medley and "All My Tomorrows," Ohno on "Blackberry Winter." On its eighth recording to date, DIVA continues to march onward and upward while leading A Swingin' Life (which, by the way, is the best kind to lead if one has the choice).

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


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Jeg roper til deg" CD/LP/Track Review Jeg roper til deg
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "Live with a Boom" CD/LP/Track Review Live with a Boom
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Clarinet (& Piano)" CD/LP/Track Review Clarinet (& Piano)
by John Eyles
Published: February 8, 2017
Read "Tangofied III" CD/LP/Track Review Tangofied III
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "Music From An Imaginary Land" CD/LP/Track Review Music From An Imaginary Land
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 14, 2017
Read "Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Deep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 5, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.