Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

5

The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: Special Kay!

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
WOW!

No, it is definitely not advisable to open a review with an unequivocal superlative (for one thing, it sort of gives the game away, doesn't it?). But on Special Kay!, its ninth impressive album in twenty-four years, DIVA—the gold standard among all-female big bands since its inception—really gives a commentator no reasonable choice. Simply put, this is a mind-blowing live performance at the Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek, NY, that electrifies and satisfies from start to finish.

Perhaps one reason for the inspired endeavor is that the "Kay" in Special Kay! symbolizes Stanley Kay, a drummer-turned-talent manager (and entertainment director for the New York Yankees) who in 1990 approached another drummer, Sherrie Maricle, with the idea of forming an all-woman band. Two years later, DIVA made its widely-praised debut, and the rest, as they say, is history. Kay remained a driving force behind the orchestra until his passing in June 2010. Now, some six years later, DIVA pays tribute to its fallen leader by performing ten of his admirable compositions, several of which had never before been recorded. To underscore its import, Special Kay! marks the first time DIVA has ever produced an album of all-original themes.

Among Kay's clients was the renowned tap-dancing trio Hines, Hines & Dad, and he wrote the flamboyant opener, "Did You Do That?" for Maurice and Gregory Hines' mother, Alma, who often asked that question after an especially intricate dance routine. The irrepressible barn-burner features a blistering duel between tenors Roxy Coss and Janelle Reichman who moves to clarinet to solo with trumpeter Tanya Darby on the strapping yet melodious "Nothin,'" trimly arranged by bassist Noriko Ueda. All trumpets are muted (and all solo) on "To Sweets with Love," Kay's loping homage to trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, which precedes another brisk flag-waver, "Where's the Food?," a question Kay always insisted was the first one asked by band members at every gig. Emphatic solos courtesy of baritone Lisa Parrott, trombonist Deborah Weisz and pianist Tomoko Ohno.

So far, an avalanche of exhilarating big-band jazz, and we haven't even reached the halfway mark. Ohno and trombonist Jennifer Krupa are front and center on the seductive "Give Me Your Love," altos Leigh Pilzer and Sharel Cassity on Scott Whitfield's snappy arrangement of the fast-moving "How Ya Doin'?" Reichman (clarinet), Krupa (muted) and trumpeter Jami Dauber (also muted) brighten John J. DiMartino's swinging arrangement of "You Made a Mistake," after which Maricle assumes command on "The Brush Off," written especially for her by Kay to showcase her remarkable dexterity with brushes. "Special Kay," a charming bossa arranged by Ueda on which Cassity (flute) and trumpeter Barbara Laronga shine, leads to the roaring finale, "Three Sisters and a Cousin," Kay's answer to Jimmy Giuffre's "Four Brothers" and the first chart ever written by him for DIVA. As one would surmise, the saxophones are ascendant, with volcanic solos by all hands.

Maricle closes the concert, appropriately, by exclaiming "We love you, Stanley Kay!" It's a love that is self-evident in almost every measure of this sensational album, arguably the pinnacle in a long line of splendid recordings by this prodigious orchestra, and one that is indeed Special in every way. Five stars all around: for concept, arrangements, execution, aerial balancing without a net, and especially for an abundance of ardor and esprit de corps.

Track Listing: Did You Do That?; Nothin’; To Sweets with Love; Where’s the Food?; Give Me Your Love; How Ya Doin’?; You Made a Mistake; The Brush Off; Special Kay; Three Sisters and a Cousin.

Personnel: Sherrie Maricle: music director, drums; Tanya Darby: trumpet; Jami Dauber: trumpet; Carol Morgan: trumpet; Barbara Laronga: trumpet; Sharel Cassity: alto sax, flute; Leigh Pilzer: alto sax, flute; Janelle Reichman: tenor sax, clarinet; Roxy Coss: tenor sax, clarinet; Lisa Parrott: baritone sax; Deborah Weisz: trombone; Jennifer Krupa: trombone; Leslie Havens: bass trombone; Tomoko Ohno: piano; Noriko Ueda: bass.

Title: Special Kay! | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Diva Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Warning: include(/home/websites/jazznearyou.com/www/html/templates/calendar/cal_related_cached.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html/content/article.php on line 68

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/data/websites/jazznearyou.com/www/html/templates/calendar/cal_related_cached.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php5:/data/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html:/usr/share/php') in /home/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html/content/article.php on line 68

More Articles

Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Vertical CD/LP/Track Review Vertical
by Don Phipps
Published: January 16, 2018
Read In Stride CD/LP/Track Review In Stride
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Rock Pool Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Rock Pool Mirror
by Barry O'Sullivan
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Jorg Schippa's Kiosk" CD/LP/Track Review Jorg Schippa's Kiosk
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "One Minute Later" CD/LP/Track Review One Minute Later
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "Green Moss Black Sand" CD/LP/Track Review Green Moss Black Sand
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 30, 2017
Read "Such A Sky" CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Moments Of Fatherhood" CD/LP/Track Review Moments Of Fatherhood
by John Sharpe
Published: April 9, 2017