141

The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: T.N.T

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: T.N.T I first heard DIVA more than ten years ago, and it was love at first note. It was called "no man's band" then, as if there were something to prove, but that's no longer necessary. DIVA has shown time and again that it can stand toe-to-toe and slug it out with any band anywhere. My admiration has grown deeper as the band has continued its upward course, producing a series of highly impressive albums, the most recent of which is this marvelous tribute to composer/arranger/saxophonist Tommy Newsom, late of the Tonight Show band and a steadfast DIVA supporter since its inception.

All of the arrangements and two of the compositions on T.N.T. are Newsom's, and those who remember him only as Johnny Carson's colorless foil on the Tonight Show may have to revise their opinion upward. Every one of these charts is superb, and as for Newsom's originals, "Titter Pipes" reminds me of something Zoot Sims or Al Cohn might have written and played, which is the highest compliment I can bestow, while "Three Shades of Blue" lays down a classic groove for Karolina Strassmayer's soprano sax and Chihiro Yamanaka's piano.

Strassmayer solos brilliantly on "Three Shades," as she does on alto ("Titter Pipes") and flute (Clare Fischer's rhythmic "Pensativa"). But she's not the only electrifying wire in the socket. Yamanaka is luminous on "Pensativa," as are tenor Scheila Gonzalez on "Titter Pipes" and "I Remember You," clarinetist Anat Cohen on "Moonlight" (a.k.a. "What a Little Moonlight Can Do"), flugel Barbara Laronga on the seductive and too-seldom-heard ballad "Too Late Now," baritone Lisa Parrott and trumpeter Jami Dauber on the flavorful "Trail Mix" (Ferde Grofé's "On the Trail," Richard Rodgers' "Surry with the Fringe on Top") and Ellington's "Come Sunday," Cohen (tenor) and Laronga (trumpet) on a tune that Zoot Sims did write, the robustly swinging "Red Door." Gonzalez, Dauber and Laronga comprise a charming vocal group on "Straighten Up and Fly Right," part of a Nat Cole medley that includes "Mona Lisa," "Nature Boy" and Bobby Troup's "Route 66," the last featuring snappy solos by trombonist Debra Weisz, alto Leigh Pilzer and trumpeter Tanya Darby.

Darby shares lead trumpet duties with the amazing Liesl Whitaker, while leader/drummer Sherrie Maricle kicks the band into high gear and keeps it there, a task she performs so well that one's awareness of her formidable presence is more subliminal than conscious, which is exactly the way great drumming should be. I could go on and on about DIVA, but I'll step aside and let the late Johnny Carson have the last word. "If I was still hosting the Tonight Show," he writes in the liner notes, "and Doc [Severinsen], Tommy and the guys weren't available I would hire this band in a heartbeat. As you can hear in these Tommy Newsom arrangements, Sherrie Maricle and these ladies really swing. They're simply terrific and could hold their own with the best of the big bands."


Track Listing: Titter Pipes; Pensativa; Three Shades of Blue; Moonlight; Nat Cole medley; Too Late Now; Trail Mix; Remember medley; Come Sunday; The Red Door (64:15).

Personnel: Sherrie Maricle, drums, leader; Karolina Strassmayer, Leigh Pilzer, alto sax; Anat Cohen, Scheila Gonzalez, tenor sax; Lisa Parrott, baritone sax; Liesl Whitaker, Tanya Darby, Barbara Laronga, Cindy Bradley, Jami Dauber, trumpet; Deborah Weisz, Lori Stuntz, trombone; Leslie Havens, bass trombone; Chihiro Yamanaka, piano; Noriko Ueda, bass.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Home" CD/LP/Track Review Home
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 10, 2016
Read "Chronosome" CD/LP/Track Review Chronosome
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "Transparent Water" CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Louisiana Soul Revival Featuring Doug Duffey" CD/LP/Track Review Louisiana Soul Revival Featuring Doug Duffey
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "Motion" CD/LP/Track Review Motion
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 11, 2016
Read "Alameda Gardens" CD/LP/Track Review Alameda Gardens
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 22, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!