by Rebecca Redshaw
The Port Townsend Film Institute and Centrum join forces during the Jazz Port Townsend event (July 22-29) to present a sneak preview of "The Girls in the Band" at 1 p.m. Friday, July 27, at Wheeler Theater in Fort Worden State Park. The public is welcome and tickets are free.
Sherrie Maricle, subject of the film and currently the conductor of the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, is enthusiastic about coming back to the Northwest and being part of the Jazz Port Townsend faculty at Centrum from July 22-29.
“Once I was a student at Centrum and it was a transformative time for me. The quality of the music was so high. Now I’m thrilled to come back as a faculty member,” Maricle said.
In addition to leading seminars, she will sit in with other jazz musicians throughout the week. This year a particular highlight for Maricle is the participation of Johnny Mandel. The award-winning composer/arranger has written more than 40 soundtracks, including such well-known film scores as "The Sandpiper," "The Americanization of Emily" and the theme song for "M*A*S*H."
"He’s one of the most prominent American film composers and arrangers for vocalists like Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, and k.d. lang — huge superstars," Maricle said. "He’s an iconic writer and was good friends with one of the people that founded the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Stanley Kay. Through that legacy of friendship, the DIVA Orchestra was chosen to make a CD of Mandel’s work that was recorded live in New York City.”
The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the DIVA Jazz Trio and the quintet Five Play keep Maricle very busy. In 2013, the all-woman orchestra celebrates 20 years of performing around the world.
“Usually, we do a week and then take the rest of the month off," she said. "We don’t tour 300 days a year like the old big bands used to. We go to Europe once or twice a year along with small groups, also part of DIVA and my DIVA jazz trio. I’ll be in Japan with my trio for two weeks before coming to Centrum.”
One-night stands and long bus rides were routine in the heyday of big bands. The documentary "The Girls in the Band" sheds an informative light on talented women with a passion for jazz breaking into an almost exclusively male domain. Producer/director Judy Chaikin interviewed quite a few of the original International Sweethearts of Rhythm, who all spoke about their love of music and the joy of performing.
"'The Girls in the Band' is a great film and presented in an entertaining, enlightening way," Miracle said.
"It’s an important piece of American history and has a great message."
"The Girls in the Band" also will screen twice at the Port Townsend Film Festival, Sept. 21-23. Find pass sales and info at www.ptfilmfest.com or call the office at 360-379-1333. "Like"the Port Townsend Film Festival on Facebook to get you updates all year.