The Diva Jazz Orchestra is a 13-member concert jazz orchestra steeped in the history of jazz but infused with progressive contemporary harmonies. On the ensemble's fifth release, its leader/drummer, Sherrie Maricle, guides the orchestra through a stellar tribute to arranger/bandleader Tommy Newsom. Together they make a resounding statement about the vitality of big-band music as they interpret Newsom's arrangements with skill and verve. Opening with "Titter Pipes," the orchestra blends swinging substance with inspiration and passion. Great soloing is what makes this song a standout. The wide emotional arcs and rhythmic pace presented on "Three Shades of Blue" reveal a model of artistry and emotion. Saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer makes a brilliant showing with her inventive soloing. The fact that the members of this all-female orchestra actually sing (check out "Straighten Up and Fly Right") really sets them apart from many of their jazz orchestra contemporaries. Overall, the songs on TNT -- A Tommy Newsom Tribute have endured years of interpretations, but Sherrie Maricle and the Diva Jazz Orchestra do a brilliant job as they restate the historical importance of one of America's most revered arrangers, composers, and bandleaders. To that end, this CD should garner them a wider audience and more fame.
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AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein