The DIVA's 25th

Bruce Von Stiers

Recognition of talent occasionally leads on to bigger and better things. One such occasion involved jazz drummer Sherrie Maricle. She was playing in a band that was conducted by Stanley Kay, who had been a relief drummer for Buddy Rich. Kay wondered if there were other women jazz artists with the level of talent that Maricle had. So the two of them sought out existing and emerging talent for a project. That project ended up being The DIVA Jazz Orchestra.

From their first performance in the spring of 1993, the orchestra has toured all over the world and recorded an album or two. This year marks the 25 th anniversary of the group. To commemorate that milestone, the orchestra has just released a new album. This album is appropriately titled 25th Anniversary Project.

To list the accomplishments of each member of the orchestra would take up a page or two. Individually, these women have played and recorded with some of jazz's top people, as well as having solo careers. The members of the orchestra who performed on the album are Jami Dauber on trumpet and flugelhorn. She was also the manager. Liesl Whitaker was on trumpet and flugelhorn as well. The other two performers on trumpet and flugelhorn were Barbra Laronga and Rachel Therrien. I recently reviewed Rachel's newest album. Jennifer Krupa and Sara Jacovino were on trombone and Leslie Havens was on bass trombone. Alexa Tarantino played the alto and soprano saxophones. Mercedes Beckman played the alto sax, along with flute and clarinet. Janelle Reichman was on tenor sax and clarinet. Erica Von Kleist was on tenor sax. Leigh Pilzer played baritone sax and bass clarinet. I also reviewed Liegh's latest album. And not to be left out, there was Tomoko Ohno on piano and Noriko Ueda on bass. Maria Callas comes is a guest performer on the congas for one song. And finally there was Sherrie Maricle as the musical director and drummer.

The album has ten songs and a play time of just over an hour. The songs are original compositions and each features solos its composer. The album was produced by Sara Jacovino and Sherrie Maricle with Pat Christie and Marcia Gallas as executive producers. Jami Dauber served as assistant producer. It was recorded at the Red Rock Recording Studio and recorded, mixed and mastered by Kent Heckman.

The album begins with East Coast Andy. It is a fun piece that almost reminded me of the theme song of the original Odd Couple television series. There are great solos by Jami Dauber and Leigh Pilzer on the song. Leigh wrote this composition.

Janelle Reichman composed Middleground, which features her on clarinet. Tomoko Ohno is also featured on piano. It is a light piece with a touch of drums and trumpet.

Seesaw begins slow and endearing. Part way through the song, the pace picks up for a whirlwind of sounds.

Jami's Tune has a lot going on. It has a Roaring 20's vibe in parts. And in others spots, it has a Big Band sound. And other generations of jazz are thrown in there as well. Liesl Whitaker and Barbara Laronga both have solos in the song.

Square One is a moderately paced piece that finds Rachel Therrien on flugelhorn and Alexa Tarantino on alto sax for solos.

Darkness of the Matter seems like it would be dark and moody piece. But it is pretty upbeat with great sax and trombone.

La Americana is just about like it looks. It is a fun piece with a tad bit of Latin influence. This is the song with the conga solo.

A Quarter Past The Last Minute has a classy, smooth, cool cat feel to it. There is a great trumpet solo as well tenor sax and trombone solos.

Forever In My Heart is a slower piece with a lot of Big Band sound mixed with some tough bass and piano.

Taking up the final position on the album is The Rhythm Changes. It is chock full of toe tapping music, with cool trumpet, sax, drum and bass solos.

I review a lot of jazz music. I am constantly surprised by the immense talent that there is in the jazz world. And that is definitely what the DIVA Jazz Orchestra has, a group of very talented musicians. That this is an all-female ensemble makes it very unique. This 25 th anniversary album indeed reflects the great talent that is involved in the group.

25 th Anniversary Project is available at most music retailers.

To learn more about The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, visit


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© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers