If it weren’t so true it would sound like a cliché: there really is no other ensemble quite like Diva. A 15-piece all-women band in the classic tradition—yet wholly un-retro in their approach—Diva is all about dynamics and innovation, class and sass. Led by drummer Sherrie Maricle, Diva has released more than a dozen discs, drawing raves from prestigious outlets like the Washington Post and JazzTimes magazine. On their new CD, “A Swingin’ Life,” the band presents a program of pieces from the Great American Songbook and beyond. Joining them for the occasion—recorded at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York and the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh—are two of our greatest divas, the inimitable Nancy Wilson and Marlena Shaw.
Cyrus Chestnut is one of the great piano voices of his generation or any generation, as he proves again with his latest release, “Midnight Melodies.” For this his first-ever live recording, he’s captured at Smoke in New York City. Chestnut claims that the club’s Steinway B is the best piano in the city. “It’s just my ticket. We connect. It’s warm and it’s sharp at the same time with a lot of earth in it. I like clubs like the Jazz Standard or Smoke, where you can sit down at the piano and get down-home, because that’s the kind of audience they attract.” Joining Cyrus are bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Lewis on a musical odyssey that includes music by Billy Strayhorn, John Coltrane, and one of his important influences, John Hicks.
Also this week, we’ll have new discs from vocalists on the opposite ends of the generational spectrum: veteran Barbara Morrison’s “I Love You, Yes I Do,” and the first domestic release from the widely acclaimed young French singer Cyrille Aimee, “It’s a Good Day”; and trumpeter Joe Magnarelli is joined by trombonist Steve Davis on a new quintet date, “Lookin’ Up!”.