Five Play

Live From The Firehouse Stage
(Self Release)

Recorded at an upstate New York club dear to drummer and DIVA Jazz Orchestra founder Sherrie Maricle, the 10 tunes on Live From The Firehouse Stage are accessible, swinging and even surprising as the orchestra’s rhythm section is joined by two soloists.

Bracketed by Maricle’s roadhouse blues “T-Bone Special” and her “The Time Being,” a boppish showcase for Janelle Reichman’s tenor saxophone, the album also includes pianist Tomoko Ohno’s dramatic “The Pilot,” Reichmann’s balladic “Unexpected” and a heartfelt, improbably fresh take on “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” The group also updates Duke Ellington’s rakish “Just Squeeze Me” with verve and just enough respect. But the originals are noteworthy, particularly bassist Noriko Ueda’s “Uneven Pieces,” a tune of shimmering power. Here, Maricle’s cymbals lead to a sweet Reichman solo on a song that conjures a late-summer rain. Its voicings are supple, its melody inviting and ultimately triumphant as Reichman and trumpeter Jami Dauber wind it down. In a similar vein, “Nancy With The Laughing Face,” a moody Jimmy Van Heusen character sketch, highlights Ohno’s understated, but pointed, piano and Ueda’s probing bass.

Five Play also can pour it on. Take Ohno’s “Samba De Sorvete,” which blasts from the start, distinguished by her toughest solo. Then Reichman’s tenor enters in full wail, leading to a virtuosic Maricle turn replete with rimshot blasts. The band eventually restates the hard-bop melody, deconstructing it at the very end to give each soloist—including a downright percussive Ohno—one last shot.