Home Music The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: DIVA Swings Broadway

The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: DIVA Swings Broadway

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The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: DIVA Swings Broadway

This is one of the best big bands in contemporary music – not simply because it is an all-women big band, but because the musicians are just that good and parley with the familiarity of old friends. Moreover, their playing – especially their solo flights [and there are many throughout this repertoire] are electrifying and all very memorable. [One can just imagine what this music with this ensemble must sound like on a performance stage…]

This is a recording of Broadway show-tunes and quite honestly, it’s hard to remember when they sounded this good. Each song seems to get one better than the other – in terms of arrangements, harmonic conception and rhythmic propulsion. For instance, just when you think that it cannot get any better – in terms of ensemble and the high and mighty soloing, along comes bassist Noriko Ueda whose solo flight on “The Man I Love” just stops your heart and takes your breath away. This solo [throughout the song] is a masterpiece of architecture – a wonderful exploration of melodic sculpture and harmonic invention, shaped into a monumental rhythmic edifice that explodes with passion.

There is never a dull moment either throughout this repertoire and even though this programme is almost an hour, it seems to fly by from one harmonic with grace and exciting surprises from one harmonic invention to the next. Everything is in perfect balance. Each song is carefully crafted. Nothing is forced or exaggerated or overly mannered; tempos, ensemble and balance – all seem effortlessly and intuitively right. The brass and wind sound is lucid while piano, bass and drums – especially drums – is never overpowering. Percussionist extraordinaire Annette Aguilar graces this recording on two tracks and leaves an indelible mark with her percussion colours.

Sherrie Maracle – in her role as music director and leader rings in the changes in mood, form, structure and tempo, making for a constantly interesting programme. The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration, individuality and tradition is impressively maintained throughout. The absolute apogee is the rollicking machine-gun episodes between alto saxophonists Mercedes Beckman and Alexa Tarantino on “Get Me to the Church on Time” features one of the most memorable call-and-response [alto duels] you will ever hear in a band. Ever. In any band. Period.

Deo gratis!

Tracks – 1: Heart; 2: Pure Imagination; 3: The Man I Love; 4: With Every Breath I Take; 5: The Sound of Music; 6: Oh, What a Beautiful Morning; 7: Seventy-Six Trombones; 8: Love Who You Love; 9: Get Me to the Church on Time

Musicians in The DIVA Jazz Orchestra – Brass [trumpets and flugelhorns] Liesl Whitaker, Jami Dauber [trumpet solo – 1, flugelhorn solo – 2], Rachel Therrien [flugelhorn solo – 6], Barbara Laronga [trumpet solo – 7 flugelhorn solo – 8], Brass [trombones] Jennifer Krupa [soli 1, 7], Sara Jacovino [soli – 4, 7], Leslie Havens: bass trombone [solo – 7]; Woodwinds Alexa Tarantino [ soli – 7, 8] and Mercedes Beckman: soprano and alto saxophones and flutes [solo – 8]; Roxy Coss [tenor saxophone soli – 1, 2 and clarinet solo – 7] and Laura Dryer: tenor saxophone [solo – 6] and clarinet; Leigh Pilzer: baritone saxophone [solo – 5], bass clarinet, flute and clarinet; Rhythm Section Sherrie Maracle: music director and drums [soli – 2, 9]; Noriko Ueda: contrabass [soli – 3, 5, 8]; Tomoko Ohno: piano [soli – 5, 8]. Special Guest – Annette Aguilar: agogo bell [by Bola], caxixi, contemporanea repinique, cuica, mineiro, pandeiro [AAA 10″ by Boemia], shaker and tamborim [2, 6]

Released – 2022
Label – DIVA Jazz
Runtime – 55:21

Raul da Gama is a poet and essayist. He has published three collections of poetry, He studied at Trinity College of Music, London specialising in theory and piano, and he has a Masters in The Classics. He is an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep technical and historical understanding of music and literature.

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