Headed by Music Director/Drummer Sherrie Maricle, DIVA exudes the excitement and force found in the tradition of the historic big bands but with an eye towards today’s progressive sound and originality. With New York as their home base, DIVA performs all over the world playing contemporary, mainstream big band jazz, composed and arranged to fit the individual personalities and styles of the players.
The inspiration for DIVA came from Stanley Kay, one-time manager and relief drummer for Buddy Rich. In 1990, Kay was conducting a band in which Sherrie Maricle was playing the drums. Stanley immediately picked up on her extraordinary talent and began to wonder if there were other women players who could perform at the same level. The search was on and through nationwide auditions, the foundation for DIVA was poured in June 1992, and what emerged is the dynamic musical force that holds forth to the present day.
Since their premiere performance over 25 years ago (March 30th, 1993 at New York University), DIVA has toured the world to critical and popular acclaim. To fully grasp how wide the appeal is of this incredibly gifted ensemble, one has only to read the catalog of prestigious venues in which the band has performed. Here is but a partial list: Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, Verizon Jazz Festival at Lincoln Center, Blue Note, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Birdland and the Apollo Theater in New York. Add to that the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh, and Symphony Halls in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Cleveland, plus the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl and Cinegrill in Hollywood. International appearances include Le Meridien Hotel in Paris, France; Teatro de Sistina in Rome, Italy; Berlin Jazz Festival in Germany; Salzburg Music Festival in Austria; Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland; Montreal and Ottawa International Jazz Festivals in Canada; Bogota International Jazz Festival in Colombia; Jamaica Jazz Festival; Zagreb Jazz Festival in Croatia; and the Pori Jazz Festival in Finland.
As if the list of settings in which DIVA has performed isn’t impressive enough, in 2017 the band performed at the NEA Jazz Master’s Awards Ceremony at the Kennedy Center. From 2013 to the present day, the band tours and is featured in Maurice Hines’s autobiographical musical Tappin’ Through Life, performing extended runs at New World Stages in New York City, Arena Stage in Washington, DC, the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, the Wallis Performing Art Center in Los Angeles, Cleveland Playhouse, and Delaware Theatre Company. DIVA has also shared the stage with Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Diane Schuur, Carmen Bradford, Marlena Shaw, Dee Daniels, DeeDee Bridgewater, Rosemary Clooney, Ann Hampton Callaway, Jack Jones, Clark Terry, Dr. Billy Taylor, Terry Gibbs, Tommy Newsom, Randy Brecker, Dave Brubeck and more.
The band has also made several notable television and film appearances, including performing the soundtrack for the 2014 NBC/Macy’s Firework Spectacular, a feature in the award-winning documentary film The Girls in the Band, multiple appearances on CNN Arts Break, a dedicated segment on CBS Sunday Morning, and musical features as part of The Kennedy Center’s 25th Anniversary Special, the Japanese television network NHK, and Metropol
TV in Germany.
DIVA boasts of a very impressive series of recordings. Their most recent release, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra’s 25th Anniversary Project (ArtistShare, 2018) was preceded by the critically-acclaimed Special Kay (2016), original music of DIVA founder Stanley Kay, and A Swingin’ Life (2014), featuring Grammy Award winner Nancy Wilson and the soulful Marlena Shaw. Other DIVA recordings include: Johnny Mandel: The Man and his Music, recorded live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola and conducted by Mandel himself; Live from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, featuring supremely swinging vocalist Carmen Bradford (2008); TNT – Tommy Newsom Tribute, a compilation of charts the late Mr. Newsom arranged exclusively for DIVA (2005); Live in Concert (2002); I Believe in You (1999); Leave It to DIVA (1997); and Something’s Coming (1995).
This 25-year milestone inspired Music Director/Drummer, Sherrie Maricle, to reflect deeply about the rich history of the band, the profusion of outstanding players who helped create their unique style and sound, and the multitude of extraordinary composers and arrangers who provided the band with magnificent, original music to channel their skills, creativity, and passion. To honor the legacy of the band and their founder Stanley Kay, Sherrie wanted to come up with a special way to capture the diverse and dynamic history of the band and recognize their ever-evolving approach to presenting and performing mainstream jazz.
In the current edition of The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, 12 of the extraordinary 15-member ensemble are also gifted composers and arrangers. It was that realization that sparked Sherrie’s vision for DIVA’s 25th Anniversary Project: an all-original DIVA plays DIVA recording. Since most of the band members have been in the band 10+ years, and the newer members were once young fans, it was thrilling to imagine and realize a recording created by band members who have played together for years, who helped forge DIVA’s style and sound, who know the band’s history, who know and respect each other musically, and who genuinely like each other. This CD offers our listeners 10 original compositions by 9 remarkable composers, writing for 15 friends in 1 amazing band. It’s DIVA’s mission to continue