Drummer Sherrie Maricle On The 3D Jazz Trio And Developing DIVA

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Drummer Sherrie Maricle’s latest effort is 3Divas, a recording with the 3D Jazz Trio, which also includes bassist Amy Shook pianist Jackie Warren.

(Photo: Courtesy Of Artist)

Once upon a time, an 11-year-old went to see Buddy Rich and his big band. All of a sudden, she realized what she wanted to do in life.

Sherrie Maricle eventually learned how to play drums in the manner of her hero, and she would also end up leading her own band into the limelight. The all-female DIVA Jazz Orchestra, now in its 27th year, has made Maricle something of a cause célèbre, bringing to prominence future jazz stars, including multireedist Anat Cohen and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen.

At the Cleveland Playhouse in May 2014, Maricle brought some of her DIVA troupe to perform with tap dancer Maurice Hines for his musical Tappin’ Thru Life. The rhythm section included Washington, D.C.-area bassist Amy Shook, and for the piano chair they picked up Oberlin graduate and Cleveland resident Jackie Warren. The three performers realized they had a lot in common—notably their love for hard-swinging trio music.

The three became fast friends and instant trio-mates, forming another wing of the DIVA franchise (which includes the Jazz Orchestra and the Maricle-led quintet Five Play). I Love To See You Smile—a follow-up to the trio’s debut, 3Divas—is a collection of feel-good standards and jazz-inspired hits, including the title track, written by Randy Newman for the movie Parenthood.

DownBeat caught up with Maricle, speaking by phone from her home in the Philadelphia area, to talk about the trio and how DIVA developed.

The following has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you, Warren and Shook become a trio?

Amy and I met a number of years ago at a workshop called Maryland Summer Jazz. We played a couple of notes together—two quarter notes in, we were like, “Oh!” We’re very close friends now, and her playing is like—I have to say my best analogy is Ray Brown. That’s how Amy makes the beat.

We were going to Cleveland in 2014 [with Hines] and we needed a pianist. I called everybody I knew in Cleveland, and they kept saying, “You gotta get Jackie Warren.”

So, I keep calling Jackie, and she didn’t call me back, but she finally did—and arranged to do the gig. Then the three of us, we started playing together and we were all like, “God, this feels amazing!” In between shows, and even before the shows, we would stay and play together nonstop. We just loved it so much, and we just decided that we were going to keep playing together.

Your trio is in the mold of the Oscar Peterson/Ray Brown model. Do you or your bandmates ever feel the pressure of living up to the impossibly high standards from those legacy groups?

It took me a really long time—and I was definitely past 50 when I started to realize this—this pressure to be what I am supposed to be. Instead, I’m trying to really focus on what is the best thing that I have to offer. What do I do? I love to swing. I could play a backbeat shuffle for the rest of my life and be happy.

It’s not coming from my intellect, it’s coming from my heart and soul. When Ray Brown came to the Blue Note [in New York], and Oscar Peterson, I would be sitting there every night. I was always inspired by that group and the way they played together. There was something that really spoke to me.

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