BEAVERCREEK — Sherrie Maricle will be one of the headliners at this year’s Beavercreek Weekend of Jazz Festival the first weekend in March. Here’s a recent interview the News-Current had with Maricle:
You called this Weekend of Jazz Festival a “national treasure.” What makes this a national treasure?
“There are several amazing high school jazz festivals throughout the United States, but few have the depth and breadth of the Beavercreek WOJ. The uniqueness and “treasure” part of WOJ comes from the vision and goals of the leaders and the impressive comprehensive scope of “all things jazz.”
What is it like for women in jazz?
“For those of us playing the music, gender is irrelevant… I don’t know a single woman who thinks about being a woman in jazz when she’s playing. We are simply “in jazz” in the moment… Like many traditionally male-dominated fields jazz, along with the rest of humanity (most of humanity) is evolving slowly but surely. Everyone in jazz is “in it” because we love it.”
Were there many women in jazz when you were inspired to perform?
“I’m sure there were, but as in many traditionally male-dominated fields, women were excluded from many mainstream history books. I was always aware of the many great and inspirational vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan etc. But there were very few female jazz instrumentalists being lauded. Marian McPartland, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Mary Lou Williams and Melba Liston come to mind as early inspirations.
I was also always aware of the work the great drummer Terri Lyne Carrington was doing and we’re actually contemporaries. There is a fairly new and award-winning documentary called The Girls in the Band that is a history of women instrumentalists in jazz. It is remarkable film and fills in important, missing parts of jazz history.”
What made you decide Jazz, and for that matter drums?
“When I was 11, I saw Buddy Rich and his Killer Force Orchestra perform at The Forum in Binghamton, NY. That experience changed my life! I had never really heard any jazz before. When I heard the music and the force, swing, power and finesse of the band, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. And I never looked back. Love at first sight and SOUND!”
What made you decide to perform for this weekend?
“The DIVA Jazz Orchestra performed at the Beavercreek WOJ in 2002 and my quintet (FIVE PLAY) performed in 2010. Last year as I was pondering past performances I loved, I immediately thought of the WOJ and contacted the festival about returning in 2017. Every aspect of the WOJ is presented and run with the utmost professionalism – from the organizational requirements, logistics, planning, sound, travel, hospitality, accommodations, etc – just top notch. It’s all those “behind the scenes” things being just right that set the stage for great performances – from the students to the professionals.
While all of the nuts and bolts elements being in place fill any touring group with gratitude, the deeper and “real” appeal of WOJ is the passion, talent, high-energy and enthusiasm of the student performers, their teachers and their support team … The heart of WOJ presents, educates, inspires, motivates and nurtures young talent in a supportive, open-minded, and creative environment – it’s an incredible opportunity to experience, learn and grow JAZZ on all levels. Also, it’s always a thrill to play for an energized and excited audience.”
What would you say to young women interested in learning to play a musical instrument, and those interested in Jazz?
“Follow your passion and work hard. If you can dream it, you can do it, but make sure you LOVE it, because being a jazz musician, while rewarding, is also a challenging career. Remember the most important part of jazz is self-expression – your uniqueness – don’t be afraid to show the real you!”
Sharon Lee “Sherrie” Maricle (born Sept. 2, 1963, in Buffalo, N.Y.) is a renowned American jazz musician, performer and educator. Maricle’s musical education began in the fourth grade with the clarinet, having been told that the trumpet was “off-limits to girls.” She moved on to the cello and settled on the drums in the sixth grade after seeing a performance by Buddy Rich, which inspired her. Soon after, Maricle began playing professionally.
At first she performed locally with Slam Stewart, while studying music at Binghamton University, graduating with a bachelor’s in 1985. She then moved to New York City and attended New York University where she completed a Master’s of Arts in Jazz Performance in 1986 and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Jazz Performance/Composition in 2000. In the late 1980s, she was appointed director of percussion studies at NYU.
Maricle directed Saturday jam sessions at the Village Gate from 1987 until the venue closed in 1993. Beginning in 1987, she also began collaborating and leading small groups with Peter Appleyard. In the 1990s, she performed with the New York Pops, Clark Terry, and Al Grey and began working with the group DIVA.
Maricle currently leads the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the DIVA Jazz Trio, and the quintet Five Play. She teaches on the jazz faculty of the New York State Summer Music Festival, as well as running her own private drum and percussion studio. In 2009, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, one of numerous honors the jazz great has earned over the years.
Brian Evans is a freelance writer for Greene County News.