The spirit of sisterhood isn’t based on size, but, rather, built on the power of kinship. If anybody in the jazz world truly understands that fact, it’s drummer Sherrie Maricle. Way ahead of the curve when it comes to spotlighting the need for female empowerment and equality in the music, she’s helmed the Diva Jazz Orchestra for more than a quarter of a century. And while that ensemble remains her flagship, some smaller spin-off combos that have followed it also carry serious weight. A quintet—Five Play—was formed near the turn of the millennium; the Diva Jazz Trio, featuring the rhythm section from the larger ensemble, turned some heads with the release of Never Never Land (Arbors Records, 2009); and her latest triangular endeavor—the 3D Jazz Trio— has been drawing praise since its debut album dropped in 2016.
The origins of this band predate its first release by two years, when Maricle connected with pianist Jackie Warren and bassist Amy Shook while backing dancer Maurice Hines’ Tappin’ Thru Life production at the Cleveland Playhouse. Strong chemistry between these three was there from the beginning, so an easy partnership came to pass. And judging by the music presented on this sophomore release, the group’s bonds have only grown stronger and deeper over time. Right from the start—on the Randy Newman-penned title track—this trio cooks. Warren’s monstrous chops ride atop the infectiously swinging foundation, Shook steps to the fore in fine form, and Maricle’s stick work shines between the hits. A wonderful scene-setter that’s tight in all the right ways, it leaves no doubt about this band’s capabilities.
As the album continues, 3D explores numerous musical angles. Following a flowing Warren introduction, the collective powers deliver a “Bésame Mucho” which burns with the heat of a thousand suns. With a “Moonglow” that features some Gene Harris-esque flights from Warren’s fingers, this crew pushes the thermometer from cool to hot and back again. The group’s dynamic take on Jimmy Smith‘s “Back at the Chicken Shack” adds a welcome dose of blues and soul to the mix. And a haunting and happening trip through “Angel Eyes,” with arco bass offering the melody while a menacing piano riff operates in the shadows, places this old chestnut in new light. Those first five numbers make clear that this trio can handle just about anything with aplomb, and the three that make up the balance of the program—the Brazilian-t “Recado Bossa Nova,” morphing 12/8 winner “When You and I Were Young, Maggie” and up-tempo “L.O.V.E.”—simply seal the deal. This three-dimensional band soars and roars through this set with power, precision and supreme taste. It’s smiles all around here.
I Love To See You Smile; Besame Mucho; Moonglow; Back at the Chicken Shack; Angel Eyes; Recado Bossa Nova; When You and I Were Young; L.O.V.E.