Aside from singers and such notable instrumentalists as Lil Hardin Armstrong, Mary Lou Williams, Marian McPartland and Toshiko Akiyoshi, jazz has always been pretty much all-male turf. But the members of Diva, the all-female big band that kicks off the Playboy Jazz Festival on Saturday, are out to blow a hole in the stereotype that women can't play.
"If you study [and] have the love of the music that we do, that same passion of someone like Charlie Parker or Buddy Rich, then there's no reason that you can't be equally as good or talented as a man," says Sherry Maricle, Diva's drummer and leader.
The group proves Maricle's point on its debut release, "Something's Coming," playing with a sense of fire and precision invigorating charts supplied by Maricle and tenorist Laura Dreyer as well as Tommy Newsom, John LaBarbera and Mike Abene.
The band doesn't have to depend on tricks or cute outfits to make the point that good music is simply good music, no matter who's playing it. "This band can go on stage and hold its own," Maricle says.
Based in New York, Diva has been around for two years. Its members--among them saxophonists Sue Terry and former Angeleno Carol Chaikin, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and trombonist Lolly Bienenfeld--range in age from 25 to 35 and have played with such established artists as Akiyoshi, Clark Terry, Lionel Hampton and the orchestra led by the late Thad Jones and Mel Lewis. Along with L.A.-based Maiden Voyage and a handful of other ensembles, it's one of the few all-female bands around.
But Maricle thinks that Diva will help to change that situation. "This band is eye-opening, in that it's creating role models for younger women who didn't [think] they could be jazz players," she says. "And it's enlightening young men who have never heard a band like this. Guys in college come up to us and say, 'We didn't know women could do this.' So I think we are breaking things down."
Diva will also be appearing Tuesday-Thursday at the Cinegrill at the Radisson Hollywood-Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.
Playboy Lineup: Saturday's musical menu, which runs 2:30-11 p.m. at the Hollywood Bowl, kicks off with Diva. Then, in order of appearance, comes saxman Boney James; trumpeter Donald Byrd and the New Blackbyrds; jazz giant Benny Carter with the ageless trumpeter Doc Cheatham; singer Ernestine Anderson; pianist-composer Horace Silver and the Silver/Brass Ensemble; flutist Herbie Mann's Reunion Band; pianist Joe Sample's trio; singer Al Jarreau; and closer Los Lobos.
Sunday's show, which goes from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., starts with the John C. Fremont High School Pathfinder Big Band. Then, also in order of appearance, it's the Dirty Dozen Brass Band; pianist Geri Allen's trio with Ron Carter; Bill Cosby's the Cos of Good Music, with Stanley Turrentine, Charles McPherson and Christian McBride; jazz legend Gerald Wilson's Orchestra; singer Kevin Mahogany; Asian-fusion-eers Hiroshima; bassist Cachao y Su Orquesta; pianist Herbie Hancock's trio; the Brecker Brothers, and closer Grover Washington Jr.
Cosby will once again provide dynamic introductions as emcee.
For ticket information: (213) 850-2000.
If you aren't planning to attend the festival, you can hear it in its entirety on KLON-FM (88.1). The broadcast of the festival will be anchored by veteran KLON deejay Chuck Niles, who's heard weekdays 3-8 p.m.
Free Jazz: The festival's monthlong series of free events wraps up today with a performance by the Eagle Rock High School Screaming Eagles Jazz Band, with guest trombonist Thurman Green, being held downtown at noon at the Triforium, corner of Temple and Main streets. Then film archivist Mark Cantor presents a batch of jazz films tonight at 8 in the Center Green Theatre of the Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., 2nd floor, Green Building, West Hollywood.
Information: (310) 449-4070.
Around Town: Singing ace Lorez Alexandria, ending a two-year layoff, returns to performing Saturday with a 1:30-4 p.m. show at Pedrini Music in Alhambra, (213) 283-1932. . . . Charles McPherson kicks off a summer series of concerts when he plays Thursday, 6 p.m., at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 250 S. Grand Ave. Free. Other artists on tap: Teddy Edwards, Nedra Wheeler, Billy Higgins and Larance Marable.
Information: (213) 621-1749.