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December 2005

Sherrie Maricle and the Diva Jazz Orchestra
TNT: A Tommy Newsom Tribute
Lightyear Entertainment

To salute the former tenor saxophonist of The Tonight Show band, drummer Sherrie Maricle and her all-female Diva Jazz Orchestra went right to the source: They borrowed 10 charts from Tommy Newsom himself, including two of his own compositions. Diva must have reveled in the pairing, since Newsom has a gift for bringing out all the sonorities of the brass and reed sections, and the 15-piece group takes this music seriously.

"Come Sunday" and "Trail Mix" both feature gutsy solos from baritone saxophonist Lisa Parrott and trumpeter Jami Dauber. Newsom's "Titter Pipes" shows off the saxophone section, with solos by Sheila Gonzalez (tenor) and Karolina Strassmeyer (alto). But Newsom's example of brassy swing is also responsible for some of the music's slicker moments. A Nat Cole medley includes a Latin reading of "Nature Boy" that takes the pensive ballad to a corny Vegas floorshow, followed by a too-cute vocal take on "Straighten Up and Fly Right." A Latin rhythm also puts artificial sweetener in "I Remember You," which comes in a medley with Irving Berlin's "Remember." Luckily, tenor saxophonist Gonzalez comes to the rescue as it kicks into double-time.

Originally published in December 2005
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