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Before & After With Sherrie Maricle: Reflecting on Big-Band History

The drummer sits down for an all-big-band listening session

Sherrie Maricle (photo by Garth Woods)
Sherrie Maricle (photo by Garth Woods)

On March 30, 1993, drummer Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra gave their debut performance at the Loeb Student Center at New York University, where Maricle was then on the faculty. They spent nine months holding auditions, perfecting new arrangements and rehearsing under the direction of Maricle and DIVA cofounder Stanley Kay, the longtime manager and onetime backup drummer for Buddy Rich. After more than 12 albums and numerous national and international tours, the all-women orchestra will celebrate its 25th anniversary at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center from March 29 to April 1. The ensemble will mark this milestone with the release of a new album, DIVA: 25th Anniversary Project (ArtistShare), consisting entirely of original large-ensemble compositions by DIVA members. This summer, Maricle will realize a career goal of bringing the band to the Newport Jazz Festival.

The 54-year-old Philadelphian has been DIVA’s dauntless leader for most of her career, also performing with the DIVA Jazz Trio, 3Divas, Five Play and with vocalist-tap dancer Maurice Hines. The drummer, bandleader, composer and educator recently sat down at Ronald McDonald House New York, where she holds regular workshops, for an all-big band Before & After, ruminating on the genealogy of large-ensemble playing, composition and arranging: Count Basie, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams (Maricle was a 2009 recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival), Gil Evans and Maria Schneider. Before becoming a part of it, Maricle often converged with that history, collaborating with Slam Stewart, cutting her teeth on Mel Lewis’ drum set at the Village Vanguard and hearing the Buddy Rich hi-hat mastery that first inspired her to sit down at the kit.

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