Jazz Festival Weekend March 7–8
will swing with a big-band beat on Friday, March 7, as the all-women
concert jazz orchestra DIVA performs in the Warbeke Memorial Concert,
an annual event sponsored by the music department since 1956 in
memory of Professor of Philosophy John Martyn Warbeke. The MHC
Big Band Jazz Ensemble will be the opening act for DIVA at 8 pm.
The following evening, Saturday, March 8, the Jazz Ensembles of
MHC will perform in "Sisters In Jazz," a collaborative
concert with the Smith College Jazz Ensemble at 7:30 pm, in McCulloch
Auditorium. Both events are free.
The New York-based
DIVA is known for contemporary and mainstream big band jazz in
the tradition of Buddy Rich, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Maynard
Ferguson, and Woody Herman. The fifteen-member group has performed
at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and jazz festivals worldwide,
earning the "divine" reputation its name suggests.
Crescendo and Jazz Music calls DIVA a band that "excels
in every department," and Jazz Times says the group
performs with "disciplined abandon" and "unaffected
joie de vivre." The group's recordings include
I Believe in You (Arbors Records, 1998), Leave It to
DIVA (1997), and Something's Coming (Perfect
Sound, 1995). It is led by drummer and composer Sherrie Maricle,
who directs percussion studies at New York University, plays with
the New York Pops Orchestra, and leads the jazz quintet Five Play.
As part of its opening set, the MHC Big Band will perform Dizzy
Gillespie's hypnotic Afro-Cuban masterpiece "Manteca,"
"I Loves You Porgy" from Gershwin's Porgy
and Bess, and Dave Brubeck's classic study of irregular
dance rhythms, "Blue Rondo à la Turk." On Saturday
evening, the Chamber and Vocal Jazz Ensembles will be featured
in Manhattan Transfer's "Operator" and Paul
Simon's "Baby Driver," in addition to a set
of music from both the Big Band and the Smith contingent.
MHC's three jazz ensembles (MHC Big Band, Chamber Jazz and
Vocal Jazz), directed by Mark Gionfriddo, feature nearly fifty
talented instrumentalists and singers from across the campus.
The ensembles are celebrating their fifth anniversary of making
music. "We are really happy to have this exciting weekend
of events taking place during our special year," said Gionfriddo.
"It's amazing how jazz music is really flourishing
at all of the Five Colleges, and I'm especially pleased
that Mount Holyoke is the setting for a weekend series to promote
and celebrate women in jazz and women's jazz performance
In addition to the performances, the Big Band will take part in
a special clinic hosted by DIVA on Friday, March 7, at 4 pm in
McCulloch. "DIVA musicians and their MHC counterparts will
meet to work out special technical problems in our repertoire
and make suggestions. It will be wonderful for us to tap into
the wisdom and experience of these talented professional players,"
said Gionfriddo. Because of limited seating, the clinic is open
only to students from MHC and from the Five Colleges. To find
out more about the weekend and about jazz at MHC, go to www.mtholyoke.edu/go/jazz.