The Iowa All State Jazz Bands sponsored by JEI have provided hundreds of students an opportunity to interact with America's leading jazz educators and master musicians. Over the years, our Iowa All State Jazz Bands have served jazz students with a "spring board" to numerous exciting careers in the music field. Selection to these groups is by recorded (blind) audition. Students interested in applying will submit recordings of their playing using a prescribed - downloadable - etude, samples of improvisation and scales of their choosing.
From the drum set Sherrie leads The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, her quintet FIVE PLAY, The DIVA Jazz Trio and co-leads the 3Divas. From Carnegie Hall, she performs with The New York Pops and from celebrated stages everywhere, she is music director and drummer for Broadway star Maurice Hines. Sherrie is also a busy freelance performer and a published composer/arranger.
With her bands Sherrie has performed at many of the world’s most acclaimed music venues and festivals; from Lincoln Center to the Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl, to Jazz Festivals in Germany, Switzerland, France, Portugal, Ireland, England, Croatia, Japan, Vietnam and Israel and beyond. Additionally, DIVA was featured at the 2017 NEA Jazz Master’s Awards Ceremony, the soundtrack for the NBC-Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular; on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, on TCM’s televised broadcast of the 25th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center and NHK Japan’s New York Jazz. The band also co-stars in the award-winning documentary film The Girls in the Band.
Sherrie has received several awards and honors which include a 2014 Ovation award for “Best Music Direction” in Tappin Through Life; the 2009 Mary Lou Williams-Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award, a 2013 State Department grant for FIVE PLAY to tour Vietnam, a tour grant from Arts International, The Kennedy Center Alliance Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Arts, a grant from Meet the Composer, a Doctoral Fellowship from New York University, the New York City Music Educator’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education and was twice selected New York University “Music Teacher of the Year.”
As an educator, Sherrie runs a private drum set and percussion studio. She is also a clinician for Yamaha Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Aquarian Drum Heads and Vic Firth Drum Sticks. On a national level, she has served as guest conductor, soloist and adjudicator for collegiate and high school jazz and All-State festivals. Sherrie also created and directs Musical Magic, a hospital outreach program for The Ronald McDonald House – New York.
After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1985 from Binghamton University Sherrie moved to New York City and attended New York University, where she completed a Masters of Arts in Jazz Performance in 1986 and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Jazz Performance/Composition in 2000.
The DIVA Jazz Orchestra’s 25th Anniversary Project (2018, ArtistShare) is the band’s most recent Cd, featuring all original music composed by band members. Other DIVA Cds include: Special Kay (2016, Independent), featuring the music of DIVA’s founder, Stanley Kay; A Swingin’ Life (2014, MCG Label) with vocal legends Nancy Wilson and Marlena Shaw; “LIVE” at Dizzy’s Club with Carmen Bradford; and Johnny Mandel - a Man and His Music. In 2016 the 3Divas recorded their self-titled inaugural Cd “live” at WVIA Radio and in 2015 FIVE PLAY recorded “LIVE” at The Deer Head Inn.
Visit Sherrie at www.divajazz.com; on The DIVA Jazz Orchestra’s Facebook page or Twitter, @divajazzorch.
Robert Washut is Professor of Music at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as Director of Jazz Studies from 1980-2002. An accomplished jazz composer and arranger, Washut has received numerous commissions from collegiate and high school jazz ensembles, professional jazz artists, and symphony orchestras. Many of his works are published by Kendor Music, UNC Jazz Press, ejazzlines, C.L. Barnhouse, Heritage JazzWorks, Sierra Music, and Really Good Music. Washut also has served as a jazz composer-in-residence at several universities around the country.
During his 22 years as director of the award-winning UNI Jazz Band One, Washut recorded 11 CDs (two of which earned 5-star ratings from DownBeat magazine), toured Europe three times, consistently received "Outstanding Band" recognition at collegiate jazz festivals throughout the Midwest, and was awarded three "Outstanding Performance" citations in DownBeat's Annual Student Music Awards.
Dr. Washut is in demand as a clinician and adjudicator nationally, and has conducted all-state jazz bands in 16 states. He is also a jazz pianist who founded the locally popular Latin jazz band, Orquesta Alto Maiz, in 1986, with which he remained for 27 years. His newest recording, Journey to Knowhere, was released in January, 2018 and features his original compositions for jazz dodectet. In 2000, he was a composer/arranger for Bobby Shew's Salsa Caliente recording. Washut also recorded a jazz duo CD (with Chris Merz) entitled Gemini, in 2007, and a jazz trio CD (with Mark Urness & Kevin Hart) entitled Songbook, in 1999. With Orquesta Alto Maiz, he recorded 10 CDs and performed nationally and internationally. In 2013 Washut was inducted into the Des Moines Hall of Fame and the Iowa IAJE Hall of Fame in 2003. At UNI he was the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award in 2015, and the College of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences Dean's Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity in 2014. He received the Outstanding Teaching Award in 1996.
Alexa Tarantino is an award-winning, vibrant, young jazz saxophonist, woodwind doubler, composer, and educator. She is passionate about developing and expressing her voice as an improviser, and inspiring others to do the same through jazz education.
Although only 25 years old, Tarantino has already played such prestigious venues as the Umbria Jazz Festival (with Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project), the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the Rockport Jazz Festival (Alexa Tarantino Quintet), and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (with LSAT, Earth, Wind & Fire, and others). She performs regularly as a leader and sideman in a wide variety of ensembles and genres including Sherrie Maricle & the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, LSAT, and the Alexa Tarantino Quartet/Quintet.
Alexa spent this past Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 performing in The New Group’s Off-Broadway Production of SWEET CHARITY starring Sutton Foster and directed by Leigh Silverman. Prior to SWEET CHARITY, she spent a year with Maurice Hines and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra as part of Hines’ production “Tappin’ Thru Life” for the show’s runs in Delaware, Off-Broadway in New York City, and Philadelphia.
Tarantino’s recent projects include a collaboration with Eastman Professor and jazz pianist Dariusz Terefenko. The duo released their first album, Crossing Paths, in January 2015 on Alexa’s new label, Infinite Records. The album explores the potential of interactive improvisation using lesser-known standard tunes as well as 20th century post-tonal compositions and original material. The duo has performed/been in residence at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland, Berklee College of Music, The Hartt School of Music, SUNY Oswego, the Jazz Education Network’s Fifth Annual Conference, Saint Peter’s Church in NYC, and the Hartford Public Library’s Baby Grand Jazz Series.
Prominent amongst her numerous honors, Tarantino won the 2014 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Saxophone Competition; was selected as one of five finalists in the 2014 North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) Jazz Competition; and received the Jazz Education Network's Women in Jazz Scholarship, “in recognition of dedication, talent, and service in the field of jazz studies and leadership into the future.” In 2013, she was invited to participate in the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, a three-week intensive residency where she collaborated with faculty such as Vijay Iyer, Esperanza Spalding, and Ravi Coltrane.
Tarantino maintains a private studio and continues to visit several colleges, high schools, and summer jazz programs as a guest clinician. She is the Founder and Director of the Rockport Jazz Camp in Rockport, Massachusetts, bringing seasoned artists and educators to work with local students to create a unique and inspiring experience for the community. She is also a Teaching Artist with the Institute for Creative Music in Rochester, New York. Tarantino recently served as Jazz Saxophone Faculty at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and is currently the Saxophone, Clarinet, and Flute Instructor at the LREI Schools in New York City. She holds degrees in Jazz Saxophone Performance and Music Education as well as a certificate in Arts Leadership from the Eastman School of Music. Tarantino is a graduate of Hall High School’s award-winning music program in West Hartford, Connecticut and currently resides in New York City.