Women in Jazz

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Wednesday November 15, 2017

From The New York Times

For Women in Jazz, a Year of Reckoning and Recognition
By: Giovanni Russonello

[…] Maybe it bears mentioning, though, that ‘Exposure’ was one of many arresting statements made by female jazz instrumentalists this year. It has been a period of painful revelation and reckoning for women in the workplace across the country, and the same was true for jazz. But 2017 also felt like a moment of progress.

Possibly for the first time, festival presenters could no longer get away with booking one or two female musicians next to a heap of men. ‘The awareness of it not being equitable for men and women in jazz has really come to a bit of a head,’ said Terri Lyne Carrington, 52, an esteemed drummer who has long spoken out about sexism in the music industry. ‘As far as it resulting in more female instrumentalists becoming recognized ‘” whether it’s albums or festivals or gigs ‘” that’s steadily getting better.’

More and more, organizations are starting to clarify their goals of inclusion. The influential pianist Geri Allen, who died this year at 60, left behind a program at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the All-Female Jazz Residency, which allows young women to learn directly from top jazz musicians. It’s not the only one of its kind. In Montclair, N.J., the nonprofit Jazz House Kids brings jazz education to a diverse grade school population. Its president and founder, Melissa Walker, has spent the past five years beefing up her female faculty and developing a residency for girls called Chica Power.

[…] what we know is that until recently [these women] might not have been in a position to stand up onstage alone, addressing the audience with generosity and informality, empowering the room, imagining the music as a space of open unity.

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