Glenn Diamond (stand-up bass), Morissa Diamond (keyboard and vocals), Sloan Hill (trumpet and vocals) and Eddie Dalton (drums) form The Diamonds, a jazz quartet.
“Glenn and I started playing on the streets of Johnson City in 2007. A chance to play at Rocky Mount came up, so we hired Vince Dial to play drums, and Morissa to play piano. After that we played at Mid-City Grill and at the Atlanta Bread Company for a number of years,” Hill says.
Morissa Diamond adds, “Glenn and I met in the jazz band at East Tennessee State University in 2007, and he asked me to play music with him and Sloan. I was too shy to even look him in the eye, but I agreed. Eddie joined us a couple of years later and added so much to the group.”
Hill loves the songs of the 1920s and ‘30s.
“Having spent nine years as a trumpeter and arranger with various Air Force bands, I started writing custom charts for the Diamonds. We now have about a hundred arrangements for anything from Glenn Miller to Roger Miller. Though we all read music, it doesn’t affect our playing any,” he says.
The group came to jazz through a variety of routes.
Dalton says, “My interest began in middle school band. My band director saw some promise in me and gave me private drum set lessons even though she was a trombone player.”
“Local musician and prominent trial lawyer Bill Gamble recruited me for his society dance band, After Six, when I was a sophomore at Dobyns Bennet High School. I knew nothing about jazz or improvisation, but under his patient guidance — not to mention playing beside trombonist Rick Simerly — soon I was more or less holding my own. Playing music for money sure beat working at Sears,” Hill says.
Morissa Diamond says, “I started playing the piano when I was 8. I enjoyed listening to big band music because my mom had played me recordings of Glenn Miller. When I was in eighth grade, Sam Collier asked me to join his high school jazz band, and that’s when I really started playing jazz. I really like the rhythms and the harmonies. It’s fun to be able to create as you go, because when you’re improvising, the music is never the same twice. We have all taken private lessons, been to college and spent a lot of hours practicing.The most beneficial training for me out of everything has been playing with other musicians. Glenn and Sloan and Eddie are so talented, they have made me a much better musician.”
Glenn Diamond says, “I’ve loved music from a young age. I signed up for the school orchestra in fourth grade, and my older brother told me I should play cello. When I got there, the girl I had a crush on played bass, and I went to talk to her. When it came time for instruments to be assigned, and I said I wanted to play cello, they made me play bass even though I was the shortest kid in the class, because I had spent the whole time talking to the girl in the bass section.”
The group performs every second and fourth Thursday at Blackbird Bakery from 7:30-9:30 p.m. For other dates, visit their Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.