Photo by Kahmeela Adams
Meet the members of DIVA
Hard-charging. Powerful. Immersed in the history of their craft and in total command of their instruments. That’s DIVA – an ensemble of 15 extremely talented and versatile musicians who just happen to be women. They can’t help it – they were born that way.
Headed by swinging 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 of originality and verve. 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 musicians themselves. Audiences can expect to hear high-energy performances packed with unique improvisation, spontaneity and fun.
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. In 1992 the search was on, and through nationwide auditions the foundation for DIVA was poured. What emerged is the dynamic musical force that holds forth to the present day.
Since their premiere performance over 25 years ago, 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. In fact, it’s almost easier to ask the question: Where haven’t they played? Here is but a partial list: Carnegie Hall in New York City; John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC; Verizon Jazz Festival at Lincoln Center; the Blue Note; Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center; Birdland and the Apollo Theater also 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, from 2013 to the present day the band 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 and Dave Brubeck.
The band has also made several notable television, film and Internet appearances including performing at the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony live from the Kennedy Center; A 2017 PBS special with Maurice Hines for The Kate show; 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 proudly boasts of a very impressive series of recordings. Their most recent release, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra 25th Anniversary Project (ArtistShare 2018) features all original music composed by band members. This was preceded by Special Kay, featuring music of band founder Stanley Kay; the critically acclaimed A Swingin’ Life (MCG Jazz 2016), 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).
Click the “Sights & Sounds>Recordings” tab for track lists, audio samples, and to order.
Whether live or via recording, DIVA always guarantees an evening of spirited and exciting entertainment that leaves the audience on its feet pleading for more.
Visit the e-press page to download DIVA press and photos.
“DIVA has long been a swinging unit, and Maricle has a reputation for seeking out the top female players for her “No Man’s Band,” many of whom have graduated and become prominent leaders themselves. Without surprise, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra plays Mandel’s charts with the finesse of veterans who have played them night after night for years, the ensembles are flawless, and there are too many outstanding soloists to list.”
Ken Dryden, AllMusic.Com
“The band punched, kicked, roared and swung with a disciplined abandon and an unaffected joie de vivre.”
“If there were still big band cutting sessions, DIVA would swing a lot of the remaining big bands out of the place.”
Nat Hentoff, Jazz Times
“DIVA: Big time charts, big time playing and big time solos.”
The Hollywood Reporter
“[DIVA’s] ensemble sound crackles with clarity, precision and power.”
The Hartford Courant
“DIVA played with the vigor and complexity of the big time big bands.”
The Washington Post
“[In concert with Diane Schuur] the band navigated through music that transcended boundaries of time and style.”
“There are not many veteran bands that interpret cutting-edge original arrangements with such tight ensembles and strong improvisers.”
International Herald Tribune
“Everybody in that band was powerful… Their set [in concert with Nancy Wilson], powered by drummer-leader Sherrie Maricle, smoked.”
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland