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Changing the Jazz World's Boys Club

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Monday June 04, 2018

From ABC News Australia

Gender bias in musical instrument selection has stopped Australia’s jazz scene from having more women leading shows and ensembles, according to industry experts. Traditionally instruments such as the drums and the trumpet are perceived as being “masculine”, while an instrument like the flute can be considered “feminine”.

But jazz world insiders say they want to “break that cycle”.

US drummer and Grammy award winner Terri Lyne Carrington is one of a number of international musicians in Melbourne for the festival. She was the first female artist to win a Grammy for best jazz instrumental album, and has played with jazz heavyweights like Herbie Hancock. Ms Carrington said while she has enjoyed success, she woke up one day and realised she was mad with the way women were missing out in the industry.

“It’s unfair and I can’t just stand by and watch it happen just because I had a shining career.”

Ms Carrington said the industry needs to work harder to encourage more female jazz instrumentalists, particularly in the era of the #MeToo movement. She has started an institute of jazz and gender justice at the Berklee College of Music in Boston for musicians who want to work in a female-driven environment. “It does take a certain power to play drums and the bass and the piano to cut through the music in certain ways but it doesn’t come from physical strength. It comes from confidence and having ownership, and we need to mentor people,” she said.

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