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Sherrie Maricle On Piano Jazz

The beating heart of the all-female big band DIVA Jazz Orchestra is Sherrie Maricle.
Courtesy of the artist
The beating heart of the all-female big band DIVA Jazz Orchestra is Sherrie Maricle.

Drummer, music educator and band leader Sherrie Maricle is known for leading her all-female big band, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra. But their full, explosive sound does not require the entire orchestra, as Maricle demonstrates on Piano Jazz with a scaled-down, trio version of DIVA featuring Noriko Ueda on bass, Tomoko Ohno on piano and Maricle on drums.

Maricle's musical experience began in the fourth grade. She started out playing the clarinet, but only after being told that her first instrument of choice, the trumpet, was off limits to girls. Thankfully, Maricle was unperturbed and continued in music, first on the clarinet, and later on the cello, before finally finding a musical home beating the bass drum in her sixth-grade percussion section. She credits seeing jazz drumming legend Buddy Rich, when she was 12, as the inspiration that ultimately led her to the drums. Maricle includes Rich, along with Jeff Hamilton and her teacher, Mel Lewis, as her musical idols.

In 1992, Buddy Rich's fill-in drummer-turned-manager, Stanley Kay, approached Maricle with the idea of forming an all female big-band. The group played its first concert a year later.

Kay's influence continues to be felt within DIVA and in this session, as the trio performs a rhythmic swing arrangement of "If I Only Had a Brain." Maricle says, "Stanley Kay is really good at ... taking tunes that are typically not done in a jazz way and putting a different twist on them."

The trio's version of "My Favorite Things," which John Coltrane put his own twist on nearly 50 years ago, is highly dynamic, with Maricle's soft drum swells and warm, optimistic bursts lending an upbeat, samba-like element to the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.

Maricle and trio conclude with an arrangement of "Caravan," driven by Maricle's Afro-Cuban beat, that truly showcases the trio's ability and leaves one eager for the full DIVA Jazz experience.

Originally recorded Jan. 9, 2009.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sandy Hayden