Sp7. Women and Jazz
- 1 Discussion
- 2 Introduction
- 3 Jazz women 1910-1920s America
- 4 Jazz women in 1930's America
- 5 Jazz women in 1940's America
- 6 Jazz women in 1950's America
- 7 Jazz women in 1960's America
- 8 Jazz women in 1970's America
- 9 Jazz women in 1980's America
- 10 Jazz women in 1990's America
- 11 Jazz women in 20th century
- 12 Internet & Bibliographic Resources on Women in Jazz
- 13 NOTES
“Leonard Feather, a fellow expatriate from England, and well-known figure in the jazz world as a critic, composer, and record producer, had by then begun tracking Marian McPartland's career, carefully and with a certain concern. Writing in Downbeat in 1952, he drily, but bluntly, summed up Marian's position in jazz: "She is English, white, and a woman—three hopeless strikes against her."” (bold not in original)
“"Only God can make a tree," the swing historian George T. Simon wrote in The Big Bands (London: Macmillan, 1967), "and only men can play good jazz." (bold not in original)
“In addition to unfair pay scales, jazz women encountered equally hostile philosophical and sexist attitudes. An unsigned Down Beat article of 1938 illustrates one particularly potent masculine point of view:
- Why is it that outside of a few sepia females, the woman musician never was born capable of sending anyone further than the nearest exit? It would seem that even though women are the weaker sex they would be able to bring more out of a poor, defenseless horn than something that sounds like a cry for help. You can forgive them for lacking guts in their playing but even women should be able to play with feeling and expression and they never do it. ("Why Women Musicians are Inferior" 1938)
Both the anonymity of this tirade and the willingness of Down Beat to publish it reveal a latent yet permeating sexism. The explicitly masculinist and racialized tone of this passage represents one particularly prevalent political ideology. Here, women are defined as physically inferior, yet are somehow expected to have greater expressive and emotional capacities. Further, the anonymous author promulgates racial stereotypes by admitting a few black (sepia) female musicians into the masculine institution of jazz.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
Group shot for Director Judy Chaikin's documentary "The Girls in the Band" (picture modeled after Art Kane's Esquire magazine photograph "A Great Day in Harlem" taken in 1958). Chaikin's documentary tells the true stories of female jazz musicians enduring sexism, racism, and lack of opportunities all so they could play their music.
Group shot for Director Judy Chaikin's documentary "The Girls in the Band" (picture modeled after Art Kane's Esquire magazine photograph "A Great Day in Harlem" taken in 1958). Chaikin's documentary tells the true stories of female jazz musicians enduring sexism, racism, and lack of opportunities all so they could play their music.
Women have probably been underrepresented in every professional field with few non-gendered exceptions. For how this has affected women philosophers generally, see Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting's essay "Women or Philosophers" (February 4, 2021) and Helen Beebee's article "Women in Philosophy: What's Changed?" (May 29, 2021) both at The Philosophers' Magazine. To see what has been adopted to assist UK philosophy departments, learned societies and journals in ensuring that they have policies and procedures in place that encourage the representation of women in philosophy, see "Good Practice Scheme." For women's representations in philosophy classrooms and faculty offices, see "The Diversity of Philosophy Students and Faculty in the United States," (May 30, 2021) by Eric Schwitzgebel, Liam Kofi Bright, Carolyn Dicey Jennings, Morgan Thompson and Eric Winsberg.
“Women had long been accepted as vocalists in popular music, but few had enjoyed successful careers as jazz instrumentalists, and even fewer managed to make records during this period. Surviving news coverage attests that female bands were well known during the 1930s, and we hear mention of the Harlem Playgirls, the Darlings of Rhythm, the Hip Chicks, Dixie Sweethearts, and other ensembles, but we have little documentation of the music they made. But in 1937, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-female swing band, was formed—initially as a fund-raising project at the Piney Woods Country Life School for poor and orphaned African American children in Mississippi. But the band members had larger ambitions and, after a well-received debut at the Howard Theater, would go on to tour the United States and Europe, as well as record for the Victor label. The ensemble was often marketed for its glamour, and this may have led some to overlook its high musical standards, as demonstrated on tracks such as “Swing Shift” and “Bugle Call Rag.” But Louis Armstrong was so impressed with trumpeter Ernestine “Tiny” Davis that he offered her a job at a substantial pay raise, which she declined, and the propulsive drummer Pauline Braddy, billed as “Queen of the Drums,” was a major talent by any measure. The International Sweethearts of Rhythm not only helped establish women as respected instrumentalists, but also broke down barriers as the first integrated female band in the United States. Yet their example would stand out as a rare exception, and only gradually gain the interest of critics and music historians. A turning point came in 1980, when pianist and broadcaster Marian McPartland worked with the Kansas City Jazz Festival to sponsor a reunion and public event honoring nine surviving band members. Williams, for her part, gradually rose through the ranks of the Kirk organization: for a time she acted as chauffeur for the band (she also worked as a hearse driver during this period), eventually securing a spot as a staff writer and full-time performer. But from 1930 until 1942, Williams served as the main catalyst for the Kirk ensemble. Her charts, such as “Mary’s Idea” and “Walkin’ and Swingin’,” were marked by a happy mixture of experimentalism and rhythmic urgency, while her playing soon earned her star billing as “The Lady Who Swings the Band.” In later years, Williams’s progressive tendencies became even more pronounced, leading her to adopt much of the bebop vocabulary and inspiring her to compose extended pieces, most notably the Zodiac Suite from 1945. Following her conversion to Catholicism in the 1950s, Williams wrote and performed a number of sacred works and continued to expand her musical horizons long after the age when most artists settle comfortably into a familiar style and repertoire. Her 1962 work for voices “Black Christ of the Andes” is a neglected masterpiece that makes clear that Williams could have reached the highest rung as a choral composer, and fifteen years later this stalwart of traditional jazz went head-to-head with free-jazz titan Cecil Taylor in a controversial Carnegie Hall concert. At this high-profile performance, held four years before Williams’s death in 1981, two confident masters of the jazz keyboard confronted each other head on, and neither side blinked. As such daring gestures made clear, 'none of the Kansas City pioneers brought a broader perspective to their music making than Mary Lou Williams.” (bold not in original)
In her "Women in Jazz 1920s–1950," a term paper in 2015 for her "History of American Music" course, author Emma Lamoreaux explains that women are underrepresented in jazz history for multiple reasons. First, there was significant and repressive male prejudice against all non-male musicians. Second, jazz had a social stigma of being sleazy and sexy, allegedly inappropriate for female participation since people judged it socially unacceptable for women to participate in such activity. A third and strikingly telling reason accounting for women's underrepresented in jazz history is from an over-reliance on recordings. Female jazz musicians were underrepresented in recordings precisely because of the first two prejudices against their playing jazz in the first place.
Women jazz musicians have almost always been in a discouraging situation caused by numerous factors against them: male gender prejudices against female musicians, the belief by many that there are no good female jazz players (although this has always been false), that playing anything other than the piano or singing was not 'lady-like' and was inappropriate for women to play the trumpet, the saxophone, the bass, or the drums.
Several newspaper reporters have written about the problems for women entering into the jazz field, including Robert Palmer (1945–1997) in his January 21, 1977 New York Times article "Women Who Make Jazz" and Peter Watrous in his November 27, 1994 New York Times article JAZZ VIEW: "Why Women Remain At the Back of the Bus."
Lamoreaux, in her paper, discusses multilingual composer, instrumentalist, singer, and dancer Valaida Snow (1904–1956). Often known as the “Queen of Trumpet,” Snow recorded her album "Hot Snow," containing both her singing as well as playing her trumpet. By the age of 15, she had learned to play the cello, bass, banjo, violin, mandolin, harp, accordion, clarinet, trumpet, and saxophone. Louis Armstrong thought so highly of her trumpet playing that he said she was the world's second-best jazz trumpet player besides himself. Because of this, she was named "Little Louis" after Louis Armstrong.
A more well-known and influential woman musician was singer, songwriter, electric guitarist, and recording artist Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915–1973), who was not really a jazz musician but more of a hot gospel performer with her electric guitar playing using heavy distortion and influencing 1960's British electric blues guitar players, such as Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. Wikipedia: Sister Rosetta Tharpe notes that “She attained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings, characterized by a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a precursor of rock and roll. She was the first great recording star of gospel music and among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll audiences, later being referred to as "the original soul sister" and "the Godmother of rock and roll."”
Another unsung woman of jazz was Dorothy Donegan (1922–1998), an American jazz pianist and vocalist, working primarily in the stride piano and boogie-woogie style, but she also could play Bebop, swing jazz, or even classical music.
The International Sweethearts of Rhythm was an all-female jazz orchestra in the 1940s that toured widely, including traveling and performing in many venues.
European ones like Barbara Thompson and Marilyn Mazur
Above all, however, they looked to Jutta Hipp, who had already proven in the early 1950s that a musician could be taken seriously as a woman at the instrument even without the "exotic bonus."
There were only three female musicians in Cologne, Germany's WDR big band in 2018. Australian-born trombonist Shannon Barnett became a full member in January, 2014. See and hear her killer trombone solo at 2:12 in on a Paquito D'Rivera date with the WDR Cologne big band.
Karolina Strassmayer alto saxophonist. Since 2004 she has been the first woman to be a permanent member of the WDR Big Band Cologne. In 2004, Strassmayer was also named "Top Five Alto Saxophonist" of the year by the American jazz magazine Downbeat. She played alto sax on Joe Lovano's 20th album "Symphonica" released in 2009 on Blue Note Records from a November 26, 2005 live recording.
See below for more facts about these individuals and groups.
NOTE: Screencapture below of women in jazz from WikiVisually: Jazz under topic heading of 2. Elements and Issues of 2.4 Roles of women. Click on any hyperlink, including the photo itself, to go there, then scroll down, or click here and go directly.
🌕 Rosetta Reitz (1924–2008) championed women's jazz.
🌕 See Douglas Martin's obituary "Rosetta Reitz, Champion of Jazz Women, Dies at 84," NYTimes, November 14, 2008.
Jazz women 1910-1920s America
Bertha Gonsoulin (1890–1951)
(Bunk Johnson played a concert a week at the Geary Theatre in San Francisco, starting in May 1943 and recruited from Los Angeles players who were sympathetic to his aims. Pictured l. to r. Everett Walsh drums, Buster Wilson piano, Ed Garland bass, Bertha Gonsoulin piano, Frank Pasley guitar, Kid Ory trombone, Bunk Johnson trumpet.) (Source: Black Beauty White Heat)
As a young woman she played piano in her father's orchestra in Louisiana with trumpeter Bunk Johnson.
learned three tunes as a pupil of Jelly Roll Morton in early 1920s: "Kansas City Stomp," "The Pearls," and "Frog-i-more" as reported by musicologist, music historian, book author, professor, and journal editor Dr. Sherrie Tucker.
“At some point in the early nineteen twenties, either before her departure to Chicago with Oliver, or after her return, she took some lessons from Jelly Roll Morton. Bill Colburn told William Russell that Bertha “couldn't go to the places where [Morton] played, so he went to her home [in San Francisco] to teach her. She said he taught her several of his compositions, including "Kansas City Stomp," "The Pearls," and "Frog-i-more." (bold not in original)
One afternoon in May 1943 at a rehearsal in the San Francisco home of Bertha Gonsoulin, Bunk played four versions of this same tune as part of a medley of Buddy Bolden(PoJ.fm) tunes using the song "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor."A (Wiki) Bunk started the tune by playing "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor"B (see 108 vocal versions; 46 instrumental) in the key of Eb and then changing key to Ab in the ‘making runs’ part. The ‘making runs’ part has the same basic chord structure as, for instance, "Tiger Rag." With his fertile imagination, Bunk could play a chorus a hundred different ways.
“It is interesting to hear Ory a year before he started to officially make a comeback, although the best music is actually provided by pianist Bertha Gonsoulin who is featured on "Wolverine Blues" and "The Pearls." . . . Much better are six duets that Bunk had with Gonsoulin two days before, and one day after, the concert.” (bold not in original)
“One afternoon in May 1943, at a rehearsal in San Francisco with Bertha Gonsoulin, Bunk played four version of this same tune as part of a medley of (Buddy) Bolden tunes (with the song "Make Me a Pallet on the/your Floor"). With his fertile imagination Bunk could play a chorus a hundred different ways. Excerpts from three of these versions are presented here – the first as background to Bunk's account of his first night in the Bolden Band, and finally sections of the second and fourth "takes." Bertha Gonsoulin, pupil of Jelly Roll Morton, was King Oliver's pianist in 1921– 22 and as a child had played with Bunk in her father's orchestra in Louisiana.” (bold not in original)
"Bunk Johnson: Rare & Unissued Masters, Volume 2 — 1943–1946"
the Pergola Dancing Pavilion at 949 Market Street in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, Ory secured a gig for his old friend King Oliver at the Pergola Dancing Pavilion at 949 Market Street in San Francisco. The owner liked the Ory band and wanted to hire them, but Ory's group had a full schedule at the Creole Cafe and the Iroquois Theatre in Oakland. Ory sent for Oliver, who left Chicago May 21, 1921, with a band that included Lil Hardin, piano; Jimmy Palao, violin; David Jones, saxophone; Minor Hall, drums; Johnny Dodds, clarinet; Honore Dutry, trombone; and Ed Garland, bass. Oliver and his wife Stella moved into an apartment at 45 Garden Avenue in San Francisco. The band opened at the Pergola on June 12, 1921, and the job lasted until early 1922. Minor Hall quit by August, but elected to stay in California and played with Ory. Oliver sent to St. Louis for drummer Warren "Baby" Dodds to replace Hall, resulting in a fine from the union since he did not first seek permission before making the move. Baby Dodds would also play in Ory's band. By year's end, Dutry, Palao, and Lil Hardin had quit the Oliver band and returned to Chicago. Ory became a regular substitute in the Oliver band. One of the gigs Ory played with King Oliver was a Mardi Gras Ball held by the Louisiana Commercial Association at Oakland Municipal Auditorium on February 28, 1922. The event was advertised on the front page of the Oakland Sunshine newspaper. After this, work slowed down for Oliver; he relocated to Los Angeles, but was not able to establish a regular residency—bouncing instead from country club dances to fraternal halls. By June, Oliver was back in Chicago, though without bassist Ed Garland, who opted to stay in California with Ory.
Kid Ory filled in for Dutrey, who was the next to leave. The remaining members of Oliver's band found work as best they could. Baby Dodds and Ed Garland joined forces with Ory for a while and played for dances in the San Francisco area as well as at Ory's old hangout, the Creole Cafe." Johnny Dodds stayed in California with Oliver but stayed in San Francisco as much as possible after the birth of his first child, John Jr., on November 5, 1921." For a few months, Oliver, Garland, Johnny and Warren Baby Dodds, Ory, and Gonsoulin sponsored their own weekend dances in an Oakland hall." It was probably this band, billed as "King Oliver's and Ory's Celebrated Creole Orchestra," which later played for a Mardi Gras ball at the Municipal Auditorium in Oakland on February 28, 1922. An advertisement in the Western Outlook on March 25, 1922, urged people to attend another event, the Grand Ball at the West Indian Cricket Club, in San Francisco on April 17, where "King Oliver's Celebrated Orchestra would provide the music."
Oliver remained in California at least through April 1922. During this period, he must have broken his contract to play for an "old-time country and barn dance" sponsored by the Raquette Tennis Club at Forester's Hall in Oakland on Saturday, April 22," in order to perform on that same date as an "extra added attraction" for the opening of "Ragtime" Billy Tucker's Hiawatha Dancing Academy in Los Angeles. Tucker, who was the California correspondent for the Chicago Defender published his account of this event in the Defender on April 29, 1922: "As an extra added attraction we are featuring "King" Joe Oliver, the world's greatest cornetist, who is in town en route to Chicago. He has been up in San Francisco a few months. When he came to Los Angeles a few days ago, Jelly Roll Morton entertained him at Wayside Park, and I'll chirp to the whole continent [that] he set Los Angeles on fire . . . . Matt Lewis (my partner) and myself have offered him all kinds of inducements to stay in Los Angeles and take charge of our bands at the Hiawatha, but he has already made his contract." The contract in question was Oliver's engagement with the Lincoln Gardens, the remodeled and redecorated former Royal Gardens, which had opened under a new name and management during May 1921,
the month that Oliver had left Chicago for California." The Defender trumpeted Oliver's return to Chicago on June 17, 1922, announcing: "Dance to the music of Joe Oliver's Creole Jazz Band just back from a great year on the coast. By June 17, 1922, Oliver's band had probably been in Chicago for several weeks, but its opening at the Lincoln Gardens had been delayed by problems with the musicians union. The fine that Oliver had neglected to pay in San Francisco came back to haunt him. According to Ed Garland, Oliver's band was on the stand at the Lincoln Gardens when a representative of the union entered the hall and halted the scheduled performance. Mrs. Major, the cabaret's white owner, had to pay a fine of $100 per player, plus an extra $200, before the band could go on. (Garland must have heard the story secondhand, however, since he had stayed on in California with Kid Ory.) Bill Johnson took Garland's place in Oliver's band at the Lincoln Gardens in Chicago, and Dutrey reclaimed his old position as the trombonist. Bertha Gonsoulin, who had returned to the Midwest with Oliver, went back to San Francisco at the end of November 1922, and Lil Hardin, who had been playing with May Brady at the Dreamland, rejoined the Oliver band."
May 1921: May The Creole Band leaves for California.
June 1921: The Creole Band opens at the Pergola Dancing Pavilion in San Francisco, California with Bertha Gonsoulin on the piano.
September 1921: The drummer "Baby" Dodds replaces Minor Hall in the Creole Band.
October 1921: The Creole Band leaves the Pergola and freelances in San Francisco; Lil Hardin retums to Chicago.
November 1921: The trombonist Honore Dutrey returns to Chicago.
February 25, 1922: The Oliver-Ory band plays the Mardi Gras Ball in Oakland, California with Bertha Gonsoulin on piano.
April 17, 1922: The Oliver band plays at a Grand Ball in San Francisco with Bertha Gonsoulin on piano.
April 22, 1922: Oliver's band is featured at the opening of Ragtime Billy Tucker's Hiawatha Dancing Academy in Los Angeles, California.
June 1922: Joe Oliver is featured at the Lincoln Gardens in Chicago.
It is highly unusual when one can list all of the recordings of a jazz musician. It is quite likely that this can be done in Gonsoulin's case, as found at AllMusic.com:
Listen on Spotify.com to four tunes of Bertha Gonsoulin. Bunk Johnson suffers no poor musicians so Gonsoulin must have been competent. Her playing, however, is somewhat mechanical and plodding. You be the judge.
The second came over twenty years later when her credentials as an Oliver alumnus brought her to the attention of Rudi Blesh and other movers and shakers of the New Orleans Revival. These enthusiasts of early jazz sought Gonsoulin's services as an appropriate accompanist for New Orleans trumpet legend, Bunk Johnson, in 1943.
Cornetist and band leader Joe “King” Oliver moved from New Orleans to Chicago around 1918 or 1919. His first Chicago jobs were in Bill Johnson‟s Royal Gardens band and Lawrence Duhe's Dreamland Café band, but by the fall of 1919, he was leading the band at the Dreamland. The band included Honore Dutrey, Johnny Dodds, Ed Garland, Minor Hall, and a recent migrant from Tennessee, pianist Lil Hardin. Business, however, was rocky at the Dreamland. According to Gene Anderson, rumors that the club might be sold were circulating, and so Oliver decided to seize the opportunity for a California tour for which he had been recommended by trombonist Kid Ory. The band opened at Pergola, a dance hall in San Francisco in June, 1921. 265
A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazz Women A NOJNHP Research Study by Sherrie Tucker, University of Kansas The pressure of declining work opportunities caused tension among the band members and leader, and a series of personnel changes ensued. When the Pergola closed, the band was booked into the California Theater, where they encountered difficulties with the aggressive white audience, in the form of racial slurs, and challenges to their authenticity as “Creoles.” Hardin, at this time married to Jimmy Johnson, received an opportunity to return to the Dreamland and play for violinist and band leader Mae Brady. Hardin was but one of the musicians to evacuate the ill-fated tour.
Bertha Gonsoulin, a pianist with roots in New Orleans, but who lived in San Francisco, became Hardin's replacement. Promoter Bill Colburn, who lived in San Francisco and knew Gonsoulin well, told William Russell, “When very young, she played in her father's band in New Orleans. Her father was a violinist who worked on the Southern Pacific Railroad.” If her father's name was Gonsoulin, it is possible the family lived in New Iberia, Louisiana where numerous Gonsoulins show up in US Federal Census records.
According to Burton W. Peretti, "For New Orleans jazz musicians before 1917, distant California was as important a market as Chicago." Indeed many New Orleans musicians, including Jelly Roll Morton and Kid Ory had moved their career bases to the West Coast as early as musicians in the more often-noted Chicago migration. We know little about Gonsoulin's role in this movement. She is not mentioned in Tom Stoddard's history of jazz in San Francisco, Jazz on the Barbary Coast (Chigwell, Essex: Storyville, 1982). The details of her life are as scarcely considered by most Oliver scholars as the minutia about other members is actively debated. We do know that her
A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazz Women A NOJNHP Research Study by Sherrie Tucker, University of Kansas
nickname was “Bob” or “Miss Bob.”
We also know that Gonsoulin stuck it out through the year of personnel changes and fickle employment. At one point, a reconfigured band called, “King Oliver's and Ory's Celebrated Creole Orchestra,” made up of Oliver, Kid Ory, Baby Dodds, Ed Garland, Johnny Dodds, and Bertha Gonsoulin, played for Mardi Gras Ball in Oakland. When Oliver brought his band back to Chicago in June, 1922, Gonsoulin was still the pianist. It was she, in fact, not Hardin, who was the working pianist in the Creole Jazz Band when Oliver sent away for a young New Orleans musician by the name of Louis Armstrong to join as second cornet. As Gonsoulin told William Russell in 1940, “the telegram asking Louis Armstrong to join the Oliver band was sent to him on a Saturday evening and he replied Sunday evening. Louis arrived on Tuesday evening, carrying his cornet wrapped in a black bag.” Oliver took Armstrong to the Dreamland to meet Lil Hardin, and to try and convince Lil to come back to his band at the Royal Garden.
When Armstrong joined the band in August 1922, he did so as a part of a larger reorganization of the Creole Jazz Band, which included more shifting of personnel, such as the return of clarinetist Honore Dutrey and pianist Lil Hardin. When Hardin agreed to re-join the band in December 1922, Bertha Gonsoulin was sent back to San Francisco. As an out-of-towner, Gonsoulin recalled that she had been paid in cash the whole time she was in Chicago, and had amassed so much of it that she “carried it home in a pillow case.” At some point in the early twenties, either before her departure to Chicago with Oliver, or after her return, she took some lessons from Jelly Roll Morton. Bill Colburn told William Russell that Bertha “couldn't go to the places where [Morton] played, so he
A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazz Women A NOJNHP Research Study by Sherrie Tucker, University of Kansas
went to her home to teach her. She said he taught her several of his compositions, including "Kansas City Stomp," "the Pearls," and "Frog-i-more."
What happened to Gonsoulin over the next twenty years is, again, sketchy. The 1930 Census lists a Bertha Gonsoulin, age 49, “wife,” living in Louisiana. This could very well be her. [NOTE: In 1930, Bertha was exactly forty years old.] The age could be right, but by 1940, we find her again in San Francisco. Perhaps she could have moved back and forth between the two cities. We know from a photo and caption in the Chicago Defender, that, in 1940, she was a well- respected piano teacher at the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center in San Francisco. The paper ran a photograph of her looking very distinguished in a white dress, regal gaze, sitting at a piano, not as an entertainer, but as a “Trainer of Musicians.” The caption stated that “Miss Bertha Gonsoulin . . . has the enviable reputation of being one of the finest instructors, composers, and trainers of aspiring musicians in the west.”
Accounts of the 1943 Bunk Johnson concerts and recordings make no mention of her reputation as a “fine instructor,” or “composer,” but they do suggest that she had become “immersed in church music when she was approached by Rudi Blesh to accompany Bunk on the piano.” Martin Williams adds that she had, in fact, “given up jazz for church music” and “had to be persuaded” to play with Bunk Johnson. Whether or not Gonsoulin herself found church music incompatible with jazz—(had she “given up” jazz, or had she not had opportunities to work as a jazz pianist?)—over the next several months, she played a role in the celebration of New Orleans jazz (pre-1929) that became known as the New Orleans Revival.
In San Francisco in the 1940s, the New Orleans Revival centered around Lu 268
A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazz Women A NOJNHP Research Study by Sherrie Tucker, University of Kansas
Watters‟ Yerba Buena Jazz Band, a contemporary group of white male musicians who were inspired by the music of “King” Oliver. Christopher Hillman wrote of the atmosphere of excitement, when, “[I]n early 1943, Rudi Blesh, who was on the fringe of the movement associated with the book Jazzmen, arranged to give a series of lectures on New Orleans jazz at the Museum of Art in San Francisco.” Concerts by “authentic” New Orleans jazz musicians were conceived as part of this popular lecture series. Blesh and other collectors raised money to bring Bunk Johnson appear at one of the lectures, but they had to find musicians to play with him. Blesh located “Bertha Gonsoulin, a lady who had once played with King Oliver in Chicago, but was by then heavily involved in church music.” She agreed to accompany Johnson on the piano.
The lecture/concert (April 11, 1943) was an enormous success. In his opening remarks, Blesh shared a letter from Louis Armstrong that praised Bunk's genius, and put in a good word for “Miss “Bob” (Bertha Gonsoulin), expressing hopes that they “could get together for a jam session in the near future.” A list of the numbers played by Johnson and Gonsoulin, compiled by Mike Hazeldine and Barry Martyn, includes “Maple Leaf Rag,” “Down by the Riverside,” “High Society,” “Careless Love,” “Pallet on the Floor,” “Tiger Rag,” and “Yes, Lord, I'm Crippled.” The concert was recorded, and several of the numbers are currently available on CD (AMCD-016 Bunk Johnson in San Francisco). This event was so well received, that a subsequent one was planned for May 9, 1943 at the Geary Theater.
Bunk’s first engagement in San Francisco was a concert at the War Veterans Memorial Building, where he played, accompanied by former King Oliver pianist Bertha Gonsoulin. He talked about his early career and generally held the audience in the palm of his hand. This successful event was followed by a concert at the Museum of Modern Art.
Next, jazz impresario Rudi Blesh invited Bunk to perform in his “This Is Jazz” concert series at the Geary Theater. This ambitious presentation was to include Kid Ory, Mutt Carey and members of Ory’s band as backing.
At the Geary Theatre (1943). (L-R) Kid Ory tmb, Wade Whaley cl, Mutt Carey tpt, Bunk Johnson tpt, Everett Walsh drm, Frank Pasley gt, Ed Garland b, Buster Wilson p. Source: Louisiana State Museum Jazz Collection.
Bunk Johnson’s Geary Theatre concert in San Francisco included musicians from Los Angeles players who were sympathetic to his goals. (L-R) Everett Walsh drm (Holding a picture of Lu Watters), Buster Wilson p, Ed Garland b, Bertha Gonsoulin p (Replaced Lil Hardin in King Oliver’s Band in 1921), Frank Pasley gt, Kid Ory tmb and Bunk Johnson tpt. Source: Claes Ringqvist - The Swedish Bunk Johnson Society
"Bunk Johnson in San Francisco" CD American Music AMCD – 16 includes the 1943 concert at the Geary Theater with Kid Ory’s band, duets with pianist Bertha Gonsoulin, Bunk playing along with a George Lewis record and two fragments of unreleased sides from the 1944 sessions.
On May 7, 1943, Johnson and Gonsoulin met at the latter musician's home on 1782 Sutter Street in San Francisco to prepare for the forthcoming concert. William 269
Russell, who had just arrived from New Orleans, was on-hand to document the session, which, he later recalled, had not been planned as a recording session, but rather as a chance “to get Bunk's lip in shape.” This rehearsal, however, was, in fact, issued on the American Music label, and is also represented on the aforementioned CD (AMCD- 016 Bunk Johnson in San Francisco). The May 9th concert little resembled this intimate rehearsal. It did not include duets between Johnson and Gonsoulin. Trombonist Kid Ory and his band had been brought up from Los Angeles, and the concert primarily featured Johnson with Kid Ory's band. Gonsoulin, who would have known Ory from 1920s concerts with King Oliver, was not much featured, but did play a couple of solos. The next day, she expressed disappointment when she found that her own contributions in the concert were “hardly mentioned in the press.” Perhaps in response to her ennui, Russell recorded Gonsoulin re-creating the solo rendition of “The Pearls” she had performed the previous night. This, too, appears on "Bunk Johnson in San Francisco".
After the Geary Theater concert, several traditional jazz concerts were presented at the CIO, co-sponsored by a coalition of jazz fans and labor union figures, including Harry Bridges. Bunk Johnson and Bertha Gonsoulin were the “special guests” at the first such concert on July 11, 1943. After Johnson left the San Francisco Bay Area for lack of work, Gonsoulin made at least one further appearance at the CIO, in the spring of 1944.
At some point, Russell interviewed Gonsoulin, and his hand-written notes are housed at The Williams Research Center. I have drawn heavily from these notes, as one of the few sources of information on Gonsoulin, but must add that these notes are 270
sketchy, focus entirely on her year with King Oliver, and include her claim to have been the pianist on the Gennett session of “The Chimes,” which is incorrect.
Future research should continue to seek information on Bertha Gonsoulin for years other than 1921–22 and 1943–44. Future research should also explore the possibility that Gonsoulin may have been thinking of a different recording session, other than her discredited claim to have been on the Gennett session, when she told Russell she recorded with Oliver.
Notes 1. Music (Fall 1994), v. 12 no3, 283(21). (get page number) Gene Anderson, “The Genesis of King Oliver‟s Creole Jazz Band,” American See Gene Anderson, "The Genesis of King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band." 2. American Music 12.3: 238 (21). 3. Accounts of this tour appear in numerous places, including James Dickersons Just For A Thrill, which, unfortunately, has not proven a very reliable source. I have fact-checked all information that I‟ve taken from Dickerson‟s book. A detailed and well-researched account of this tour can be found in Anderson's article, above, which incorporates a compendium of meticulously documented sources. See also Lillian Hardin Armstrong, Oral History, July 1, 1959, Reel I [of I)–Digest–Retyped, 3. 4. JazzMedia Aps, 1999), 571. William Russell, “Oh, Mister Jelly” A Jelly Roll Morton Scrapbook (Denmark: Burton W. Peretti, The Creation of Jazz: Music, Race, and Culture in Urban. 5. America. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992, 41 6. William Russell, "Bertha Gonsoulin 1940s," handwritten notes from “California Notes”, MSS 536 F15. The Williams Research Center. Also, see mention of her as “Miss Bob” in letter quoted in Mike Hazeldine and Barry Martyn, Bunk Johnson: Song of the Wanderer (New Orleans: Jazzology Press, 2000), 94. 7. Anderson, “The Genesis of King Oliver‟s Creole Jazz Band.” 8. William Russell, "Bertha Gonsoulin 1940s," handwritten notes from “California Notes”, MSS 536 F15. The Williams Research Center. 9. Russell, “Bertha Gonsoulin 1940s.” 10. Russell, “Oh, Mister Jelly Roll”, 571. 11. “Trainer of Musicians." Chicago Defender February 3 1940: 9. “Trainer of Musicians.” 12.
A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazz Women A NOJNHP Research Study by Sherrie Tucker, University of Kansas 14 235. 15 13. Books, 1988, 55-56. Christopher Hillman, Bunk Johnson: His Life & Times (New York: Universe Martin Williams, Jazz Masters of New Orleans (New York: MacMillan, 1967), Christopher Hillman, Bunk Johnson: His Life & Times (New York: Universe Books, 1988, 55-56. 16. Orleans: Jazzology Press, 2000), 94. Mike Hazeldine and Barry Martyn, Bunk Johnson: Song of the Wanderer (New 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
Armstrong, Lillian Hardin, Oral History, July 1, 1959, Reel I [of I]–Digest–Retyped, Hogan Jazz Archive, Tulane University.
Russell, William. "Bertha Gonsoulin,1940s," handwritten notes from “California Notes”, MSS 536 F15. The Williams Research Center.
Russell, William Russell, Oral History digest, Reel I, Feb. 2, 1975, 2, Hogan Jazz Archive, Tulane University
Anderson, Gene. "The Genesis of King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band." American Music 12.3: 238 (21).
Dahl, Linda. Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen (New York: Limelight Editions, 1989), 23.
Handy, D. Antoinette. Black Women in American Bands and Orchestras, Second Edition. Lantham, Mass. and Kent: Scarecrow Press, 1998, 223.
Hazeldine, Mike, and Barry Martyn, Bunk Johnson: Song of the Wanderer (New Orleans: Jazzology Press, 2000).
Hazeldine and Martyn, 95.
Hazeldine and Martyn, 95. For more information on these recordings, see http://www.weigts.scarlet.nl/430510.htm
William Russell, Oral History Interview, Reel I, Feb. 2, 1975, 2. Hazeldine and Martyn, 101.
William Russell, "Bertha Gonsoulin 1940s," handwritten notes from “California Notes”, MSS 536 F15. William Russell Collection, The Williams Research Center.
Hillman, Christopher. Bunk Johnson: His Life & Times (New York: Universe Books, 1988.
Peretti, Burton W. The Creation of Jazz: Music, Race, and Culture in Urban America. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992.
Placksin, Sally. Jazzwomen: 1900 to the Present, Their Words, Lives and Music (London and Sydney: Pluto Press, 1985), 44.
Rose, Al, and Edmond Souchon. New Orleans Jazz: A Family Album. Revised edition. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.
Russell, William. “Oh, Mister Jelly” A Jelly Roll Morton Scrapbook (Denmark: JazzMedia Aps, 1999).
"Trainer of Musicians." Chicago Defender, February 3 1940: 9. Photo and caption of Miss Bertha Gonsoulin, piano teacher at Booker T. Washington Community Service Center, San Francisco.
Williams, Martin. Jazz Masters of New Orleans. New York: MacMillan, 1967, 235, 238.
Discography Available: AMCD-016 Bunk Johnson in San Francisco (These are the recordings from the museum concert, the rehearsal at Gonsoulin's home, and the final intimate session at Gonsoulin's home the day after the Geary Theater concert).
Illustrations I have only found one photograph, the Chicago Defender clipping, included in the accompanying file.
came from a family of musicians and became distinguished during the Harlem Renaissance as a music and dance director. Her father was Samuel Lucas (1840-1916), a minstrel comedian, musician, and singer who starred in vaudeville and musical comedy during the 1860s to early 1900s and known as "the Grand Old Man of the Negro Stage," performing with most of the major minstrel and theatrical troupes of the era. Her mother, Carrie Melvin Lucas, Sam's second wife, was a musician as well as an actress. Sam and Carrie were married in Boston, Massachusetts on August 11, 1886 and divorced in 1899.
In 1909, Lucas's father obtained a leading role in an original musical comedy The Red Moon, and Marie made her debut in this show that ran from May 3, 1909 to May 29, 1909.
had several established musicians in her various bands, including tubist and bassist Rafael Escudero (1891–1970), trombonist Juan Tizol (1900–1984), jazz double bassist, tubist, and bandleader Bill Benford (1905–1994), his drummer brother Tommy Benford (1904–before 1994), and American trumpeter, pianist, arranger, and composer Dave Nelson (1905–1946).
she debuted an all-female orchestra at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem, New York City on December 3, 1914. Experienced musician's in that orchestra included Marie Wayne (Townsend) and Mildred Franklin, violins; Maude Shelton, viola; percussionist Alice Calloway, cello; and Nellie Shelton, bass violin. Later members of Lucas's Lafayette Ladies Orchestra were Olivia Porter (Shipp) with Maude Shelton playing violin as well as viola.
In 1916 she became musical director of the Quality Amusement Corporation, which was responsible for managing several black theaters on the East Coast.
she directed an all-female orchestra known as the Lucas Colonial Theater Orchestra in Baltimore, Maryland and later held a lengthy residency with an orchestra at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. (1916-17), included in the bands were Evangeline Sinto, violin and double bassist and bass violinist 🎻 (Lolita Cordoba) Santos Rivera.
advertisements circulated announcing Lucas's availability to teach and train "all young women with even a slight knowledge of music" for female theater orchestras in Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
“ . . . her groups also played regularly at theaters in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Like the male musicians, the women moved from one group to another. The most active women on the East Coast during this period included, in addition to Anderson and Lucas, Alice Calloway (drums), Mildred Franklin (violin), Pearl Gison (cornet), Leora Meaux (cornet), Mamie Mullen (piano), Olivia Porter (string bass), Ruth Reed (cornet), Maud Shelton (violin), Nellie Shelton (string bass), Eva Sinton (violin), Della Sutton (trombone), and Florence Washington (drums). Trombonist Mazie Mullins played with both male and female bands.”
“According to Snowden, Marie Lucas's band [male] would come out into the pit, and she had sent down to Cuba or wherever it was [Ellington said Puerto Rico] and got all those musicians like trombonist Juan Tizol (1900–1984) and bassist and tubist Ralph Escudero (1898–1970) and had enlarged her band. They would play the show, and we'd [Louis Thomas's Band] come back and play the intermission and exit music (Stanley Dance, The World of Swing, p. 47). In his book Music Is My Mistress Ellington indicated that a group under Lucas's direction played the TOBA circuit as well as the Howard Theatre. He indicated that the group was very impressive "because all the musicians doubled on different instruments, something that was extraordinary in those days" (p. 34).”
she was listed as a "composer and arranger" in The Official Theatrical World of Colored Artists the World Over, with her address being at the Lincoln Theater in Lexington, Kentucky.
During the 1930s, she toured with the Merry Makers, an all-male group.
Marion Harris (1896–1944)
introduced to New York's Theatrical community by dancer Vernon Castle after starting her career on Chicago's Vaudeville circuit.
starred in the Irving Berlin revue “Stop! Look! Listen!” (1915) playing the character of the aptly named Marion Bright, produced by Broadway producer Charles Dillingham, who did over two hundred shows.
became a very popular vaudeville performer playing numerous engagements at the PalaceTheatre in New York during the 1920’s.
After three years of recording with Victor from 1916 to 1919, Miss Harris left for Columbia Records recording there from 1920 to 1922.
A very popular singer in the 1920’s, Marion Harris recorded into the 1930’s with over 130 recordings to her credit. She performed with the Isham Jones Orchestra and at the Cafe de Paris in London in the early 1930’s.
In 1927 Marion could be seen in Broadway productions of “Yours Truly” and “A Night In Spain.” Marion made numerous appearances at the Palace in New York during 1926 to 1931. In 1929 she sang Vincent Youman’s “More Than You Know” in the musical play “Great Day” which opened in Philadelphia.
first widely known white female singer to record jazz and blues, featuring a lot of material by African American composers.
“A blonde flapper, she seemed to epitomize the Jazz Age, and many of the songs she sang included “jazz” in the title.”
popularized such song standards as “After You’re Gone” (1918), “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” (1919), “Look For The Silver Lining” (1920), “I’m Nobody’s Baby” (1921), “Carolina In The Morning” (1922), “It Had To Be You” (1924), “Tea For Two” (1924), “I’ll See You In My Dreams” (1925) and “The Man I Love” (1927).
had to leave Victor Records for Columbia Records in 1920 when Victor objected to her desire to record 'race music.' Victor thought it inappropriate for a white women to record such music, especially W. C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." Columbia records agreed that she could record blues songs. This wasn't a case of appropriating Black music. She really took a career risk with this and fought the good fight in terms of racial discrimination in the early 1920s.
Listen and read the lyrics to "I'm a Jazz Vampire," Columbia Records, January, 1921.
from 1931 to 1934 she recorded for Columbia Records in London producing her last recording, the appropriately titled “Singin’ The Blues” (Decca F-5160).
“Beale Street Blues,” “Who’s Sorry Now,” “The Man I Love” and what many consider the definitive performance of “After You’ve Gone.”
made these feature-length films listed below. Her final film "Trouble Ahead"/"Falling in Love" (original title) was released in the United Kingdom in 1934 two years before its release in the United States.
Dashing and charismatic, Snow earned the nicknames Little Louis — a reference to Louis Armstrong’s influence on her — and Queen of the Trumpet, given to her by W.C. Handy, who himself was known as the Father of the Blues. That appellation often appeared below her name on the 78-r.p.m. records she made.
Dr. Tammy Kernodle, a musicologist at Miami University in Ohio, said in a phone interview that “she was a greatly respected musician on the vaudeville circuit, and even amongst male jazz musicians themselves.”
Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle cast her in “In Bamville” in 1924 (the follow-up to their smash hit musical “Shuffle Along”) where It traveled to New York the next year under the name “The Chocolate Dandies.” The show got poor critical reviews except for Snow and her co-star Josephine Baker, who was early on in her own career,
starting in 1926 at the tender age of 22 she spent three years traveling across Europe and Asia and became an established star by first going to London and Paris with producer Lew Leslie’s “Blackbirds” revue then joining drummer Jack Carter’s octet on a tour of China and Southeast Asia.
Dr. Tammy Kernodle reports that “she is important in terms of helping us gain an understanding of the spread of jazz to Europe, particularly after World War I because she helped shift the context of jazz away from the early Dixieland style.”
after returning to the United States in 1929, she had a major role in the musical, “Rhapsody in Black,” where she directed the production’s 60-person stage band known as Pike Davis’s Continental Orchestra. Show producer Lew Leslie had designed the show to showcase her talents, although Ethel Waters was billed as its star.
from 1935 through 1940 she recorded roughly forty album sides in studios across Europe, including her signature song, “High Hat, Trumpet and Rhythm,” but never made a commercial recording in the United States as a trumpeter.
Ina Ray Hutton
Ina Ray Hutton (1916–1984)
🔸 Metro-Gnomes, a small band fronted by Jack Hylton's then-wife Ennis Parkes.
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pianists such as Lil Hardin Armstrong
Lovie Austin developed jazz and led their own bands;
in New York, Hallie Anderson, organist
pianist Mattie Gilmore and trombone player and arranger Marie Lucas trained orchestras for theaters.
Sherrie Tucker’s four-year research on New Orleans jazzwomen uncovers a few of the female musicians, mainly pianists and self-trained instrumentalists, who worked in the red light district:
cornet Antonia Gonsalez
Mamie Desdunes, pianist
Dolly Adams, pianist
Camilla Todd, pianist
Edna Mitchell, pianist
Rosalind Johnson, pianist who was also a song writer and received formal musical training.
Jazz women in 1930's America
excellent all-female group including Jean Starr (1919-1956) on trumpet, Marjorie Hyams on vibes, Marian Gange on guitar, Vicki Zimmer on piano, Cecilia Zirl on bass, and Rose Gottesman on drums.
L'ana (Webster) Hyams
L'ana (Webster) Hyams (1912–1997)
Viola Smith (1912–October 21, 2020)
first professional female jazz drummer.
who played a giant 12-piece drum kit and was billed as the “fastest girl drummer in the world” — and who wrote a widely read essay during World War II advocating for big bands to hire female musicians in place of the male ones who had been drafted — died on Oct. 21 at her home in Costa Mesa, Calif. She was 107.
Her nephew Dennis confirmed her death.
Ms. Smith, who hailed from a little town in Wisconsin, grew up playing in a jazz band with her seven sisters. Her entrepreneurial father had conceived of the group, the Schmitz Sisters Orchestra, and they performed at state fairs and toured the vaudeville circuit. After most of her sisters left the band, Ms. Smith started another all-female outfit, the Coquettes, which rose to modest national fame in the late 1930s.
Ms. Smith became the first female star of jazz drumming. She performed at President Harry S. Truman’s inauguration gala, and she worked with Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb. Her showcase tune was a jazzy arabesque called “Snake Charmer,” in which she exhibited her virtuosity in a flashy solo.
When people called her the “female Gene Krupa,” she corrected them: Krupa, she said, was the male Viola Smith.
As the ranks of predominantly male big bands thinned out during the war, Ms. Smith published an editorial in DownBeat Magazine titled “Give Girl Musicians a Break!,” urging orchestras to hire talented female musicians who were eager to fill the slots of the absent players.
“Why not let the girls play in the big bands?” she wrote. “In these times of national emergency, many of the star instrumentalists of the big name bands are being drafted. Instead of replacing them with what may be mediocre talent, why not let some of the great girl musicians of the country take their places?”
“There are many girl trumpet players, girl saxophonists and girl drummers who can stand the grind of long tours and exacting one-night stands,” she continued. “The idea of girls being able to play only legitimately is a worn-out myth now.”
Despite Ms. Smith’s impassioned argument, the big bands didn’t heed her calls for inclusion.
Viola Clara Schmitz was born in Mount Calvary, Wis., on Nov. 29, 1912. Her father, Nicholas, ran a tavern and a dance hall and played cornet professionally. Her mother, Louise (Steffes) Schmitz, was a homemaker. Viola grew up in a musical household with nine siblings and attended a rural schoolhouse.
No immediate family members survive.
When Ms. Smith was 13, her father assigned her the drums in the family band, partly because all the other instruments were spoken for. The Schmitz Sisters Orchestra toured heavily and once participated in a radio battle with an all-male big band, performing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Ms. Smith’s sisters gradually left the band to raise families or pursue other occupations, and with her remaining bandmate, Mildred, she formed a new all-female ensemble, billed as Frances Carroll (the frontwoman) and the Coquettes. Their picture appeared on the cover of Billboard magazine, and they performed in a Warner Bros. musical short. Mildred eventually also got married, and Ms. Smith became the last sister standing.
The bright lights of New York, and the hot jazz coming out of the nightclubs on 52nd Street, called out to Ms. Smith, and she headed to the big city with her drumsticks.
Opportunity abounded for her in New York. She studied timpani at the Juilliard School and played with the snare drum virtuoso Billy Gladstone at Radio City Music Hall. A young Frank Sinatra chatted her up one night at a chop house. She found a studio apartment in Midtown, where she ended up living for 70 years.
Ms. Smith joined Phil Spitalny’s all-female big band, Hour of Charm, and stayed with the group for over a decade, appearing with them in the Abbott and Costello comedy “Here Come the Co-eds.” Ms. Smith also made several appearances on Ed Sullivan’s popular variety show and signed endorsement deals with Ludwig Drums and the Zildjian cymbal company.
By the 1950s, the big-band era was coming to an end. A few years after performing on Broadway as a member of the Kit Kat Band in the original 1966 production of “Cabaret,” she retired. She spent the following years getting good at bridge and enjoying the wonders of a rent-regulated New York apartment.
When Ms. Smith discovered much later that she was being hailed as a female pioneer of drumming, the news surprised her.
“It’s all amazing to me what I see now on the internet,” she told Tom Tom, a drumming magazine, in 2013. “Everything comes as a great surprise. I’m very thankful that I’m accepted as a girl drummer because, one time, there was no such thing.”
'See and hear her play a drum solo and perform with the orchestra on the video Frances Carroll and her Coquettes.
Great article about her at 107 years old by Emma Starer Gross, "The Beat of Her Own Drum: How did the 107-year-old jazz legend Viola Smith wind up in a law-breaking Christian quilting commune in an Orange County suburb?," in thelandmag.com, September 22, 2020.
trumpeter Ernestine “Tiny” Davis
propulsive drummer Pauline Braddy, billed as “Queen of the Drums”
Jazz women in 1940's America
Sarah Vaughn (1924–1990) (active 1942→1990)
“possessed one of the most remarkable voices in jazz—a voice of great beauty, suppleness, flexibility, and power. She had a full two-octave range, perfect pitch, and an improvisatory ability the equal of any instrumentalist. She could easily have been a diva in the world of opera, but early in life Vaughan was drawn to jazz and so lent her talents to it for over forty years.”
Melba Liston (1926–1999)
worked with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (1947), saxophonist Dexter Gordon (1947), vocalist Billie Holiday (1949), saxophonist John Coltrane (in big band 1949), in pianist and band leader Count Basie band (1949), with drummer Art Blakey (1957), with trumpeter and arranger Quincy Jones (1959 & 1961), and with vocalist and band leader Billy Eckstine (1961)
later in her career (late 1950s) became a well-known arranger for pianist Randy Weston (b. 1926–d. 2018) and again in 1980s and 1990s.
called the “first lady of the slide trombone.”
throughout her career she played and recorded with EVERYBODY:
Listen to "Blues Melba" at YouTube.com.
Listen to entire album "Melba Liston and her Bones" at YouTube.com.
Ada Leonard's All-American Girl Orchestra
Marjorie Rainey's Rhythmettes
Marjorie Rainey (1915–1997) Rhythmettes
Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams /
Williams took the name "Mary Lou" at the suggestion of Brunswick Record's Jack Kapp as quoted in Max Jones's Jazz Talking: Profiles, Interviews, and Other Riffs on Jazz Musician's, Da Capo Press, 2000, 190. Her last name of Williams came from her husband, saxophonist John Williams, who she married at age 16.
musical prodigy who could pick out simple tunes at age two, who taught herself to play the piano at three years old, including playing back a tune she heard her mother play on the family organ at that age, and discovered in high school she had perfect pitch.
“No woman other than the vocalists Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald had so dominated the swing scene or earned the genuine respect of bandleaders and musicians alike.”
Twelve Clouds of Joy band until April 1930, at which time she became a regular member.
the Kirk band in the 1930s success was largely due to her distinctive arrangements, compositions and solo performances on the piano. Listen to Andy Kirk's Clouds of Joy with arrangements and compositions by Williams. See Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy discography.
wrote and arranged "Camel Hop" written for Benny Goodman's radio show sponsor, Camel cigarettes, followed by another big hit for Goodman in her "Roll 'Em" (a boogie-woogie piece based on the blues) (1937), "What's Your Story, Morning Glory" for Jimmie Lunceford, arrangements for the biggest act at the time of Cab Calloway, rearranged Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" as "Trumpets No End" (1943) a big hit for Duke Ellington that Ellington recorded in 1946 and the Dizzy Gillespie smash hit, "In the Land of Oo-Bla-Dee" (1949).
became involved with a younger group of New York musicians including Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Tadd Dameron, and Dizzy Gillespie (1943), moving from what Encyclopedia Brittanica describes as “an established musician in the swing style, she easily made the transition to bebop. Her apartment became a meeting place, and she wrote several important compositions in the bebop style, including “In the Land of Oo-Blah-Dee,” “Tisherone,” “Knowledge,” “Lonely Moments,” and “Waltz Boogie.” The latter was recorded with Girl-Stars, one of her several women’s bands, in 1946.”
premiered the first of many large compositions including the 12-movement Zodiac Suite whose “Capricorn” movement was created especially for dancer Pearl Primus who also performed at Café Society (1945).
moved to Europe performing in both Paris and London (1952).
an important figure in Bebop who contributed scores to Dizzy Gillespie’s big band.
worked with some of music’s greatest legends, including Ben Webster, Bud Powell, and Thelonious Monk.
resumed her career in 1957 where she remained active throughout the 1960s and 1970s leading her own groups in New York clubs, composing sacred works for jazz orchestra and voices, and devoting much of her time to teaching.
long regarded as one of the most significant female musicians in jazz, as an instrumentalist, as a composer, and as an arranger.
“easily adapting in the 1940s to the new Bebop idiom and in the 1960s her play attained a level of complexity and dissonance that rivaled avant-garde pianism of the time, but without losing the underlying blues feeling."
breadth of her work as a composer and arranger can be seen from her expert swing-band scores for Andy Kirk's Clouds of Joy (Listen to Walkin’ and Swingin’, or Mary’s Idea, etc.) to the large-scale sacred works of the 1960s and 70s.
her "Waltz Boogie" (1946) was one of the earliest attempts to adapt jazz to non-duple meters.
In the 1960s and ’70s composed a number of her sacred works and liturgical pieces for jazz ensembles, including a cantata, "Black Christ of the Andes" (1962); three masses that included "Black Christ of the Andes" (see track list for "Black Christ of the Andes") (1963), "Mass for the Lenten Season" (1968), "Music for Peace" (1970), popularly known as "Mary Lou’s Mass" which (1970) became well known in a version choreographed by Alvin Ailey.
In 1970 as a solo pianist and providing her own commentary, she recorded a comprehensive performance-lecture entitled "The History of Jazz." (FW2860)
made an appearance (click on "appearance" to view video) on
Guggenheim Fellowships, 1972 and 1977.
“Why have jazz historians generally avoided serious consideration of her music and her contributions to jazz, even as she garnered praise and respect from her peers? One obvious answer is that Mary Lou Williams was a woman performing and writing in the male-dominated field of jazz music whose abilities enabled her to defy the conventional gender roles implicit in the jazz narratives of her day. According to this view, women in jazz were rare, women pianists rarer still, and women who, besides their superiority as players, could also compose and arrange first-class music for big band and combo were simply unheard of. Yet Duke Ellington famously described (in his autobiography, Music Is My Mistress) that Williams was "perpetually contemporary," going on to say that "her writing and performing are and have always been just a little ahead throughout her career."
nominee Grammy Awards, Best Jazz Performance – Group, for the album "Giants—Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Hackett, Mary Lou Williams" (1971); also released under the title "Mary Lou Williams and the Trumpet Giants."
Duke University established the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture (1983).
the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. has an annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival (annually since 1996).
her Pennsylvania State Historic Marker is placed at 328 Lincoln Avenue, Lincoln Elementary School, Pittsburgh, PA, noting her accomplishments and the location of the school she attended.
trumpeter Dave Douglas released the album "Soul on Soul" as a tribute to her, featuring original arrangements of her music and new pieces inspired by her work (2000).
the album "Impressions of Mary Lou" by pianist John Hicks featured eight of her compositions (2000).
had a small cameo in Ken Burns’s documentary "Jazz" on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) (2001).
a YA historical novel based on Mary Lou Williams entitled Jazz Girl, by Sarah Bruce Kelly, published in 2010.
merited a children's book based on Mary Lou William's early life, entitled The Little Piano Girl by Ann Ingalls and Maryann MacDonald with illustrations by Giselle Potter, (published in 2010).
a poetry book by Yona Harvey entitled Hemming the Water published in 2013, inspired by Williams and featuring the poem "Communion with Mary Lou Williams" (2011).
Her New York Times obituary reports that “Miss Williams was an important contributor to every aspect of jazz that developed during a career that began in the late 1920's and lasted for more than half a century.”
an award-winning documentary film entitled, "Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band,"
What'sHerName women's history podcasts aired the episode "THE MUSICIAN: Mary Lou Williams," with guest expert "Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band," producer and director Carol Bash (2018).
Listen to an "Interview with Mary Lou Williams" (recorded live in 1976).
Listen to Mary Lou Williams playing, even singing, and being interviewed by Marian McPartland (1918–2013)
Listen to "Mary Lou Williams Centennial On JazzSet," from radio station WBGO, broadcast May 6, 2010. The first concert is from the University of Michigan (1978) where she plays her history of jazz medley first playing solo piano on spirituals (her own composition), Ragtime playing "Fandangle" a rag her mother had taught her, demonstrates Kansas City Swing (a "Blues,") a swinging left hand untitled number, a boogie-woogie on "Baby Bear Boogie." Adding bassist Ronnie Boykins, they perform "On Green Dolphin Street," "Baby Man" (by John Stubblefield), "Jeep Is Jumpin'" (by Johnny Hodges), and "Let's Do the Froggy Bottom." The University of Wisconsin, Madison concert adds drummer Charlie Persip where the trio plays Dizzy Gillespie's "Olinga," followed by "Medi II," then "Bag's Groove" by Milt Jackson.
Mary Lou Williams Lane, a street near 10th and Paseo in Kansas City, Missouri, was named after her (2018).
Tammy L. Kernodle, (B.M., M.A.), "Anything You are Shows Up in Your Music: Mary Lou Williams and the Sanctification of Jazz," Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1997.
Tammy L. Kernodle, Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004).
Billie Rogers (1917–2014)
first woman to hold a horn position in a major jazz orchestra (Woody Herman's 1941).
International Sweethearts of Rhythm
International Sweethearts of Rhythm
Marjorie Hyams (1920–2012)
featured with Woody Herman's First Herd (1944–1945).
an original member of the George Shearing Quintet (1949-1950).
Read her JazzWax interview.
Hazel Scott (1920–1981)
(Click on montage of screen captures to see and hear her swing Chopin for Army–Navy Screen Magazine)
the first black American to host her own TV show.
uses post-bebop embellishment techniques that provide lush harmonies highlighting her ideas, as in her solo on George Gershwin's "A Foggy Day."
“a true trailblazer in African-American culture.”Read Karen Chilton's HAZEL SCOTT: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC
Beryl Booker (1922–1978)
recorded "Beryl Booker and her Piano" (1949)
Miles Davis sat in with her trio in 1952.
formed her own female trio with Bonnie Wetzel and Elaine Leighton in 1953.
toured Europe in 1954 with this group as part of "Jazz Club USA" that featured vocalist Billie Holiday.
recorded "A Girl Met A Piano" (1954)
released an EP of "When A Woman Loves A Man" (1954).
backed Dinah Washington in 1959.
worked with Slam Stewart, Chuck Wayne, Miles Davis, Clyde Lombardi, Connie Kay, Dinah Washington, Don Byas and others.
Dorothy Donegan (1922–1998)
(Film stills above taken from the movie "Sensations of 1945")
first black woman to perform at Chicago's Orchestra Hall in 1943.
music critic of the New York Times John S. Wilson in 1981 proclaims her “the lustiest, most exciting, hard swinging and virtuosic jazz pianist in the world. . . one of the most brilliant pianists, male or female, that jazz has ever known."
See Wilma Dobie's article "Dorothy Donegan Did It Her Way: Fans Loved but Critics Belittled," Jazz Journalists Association Library, 1998.
Jazz women in 1950's America
admired swing pianists such as Count Basie, Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller. After reaching Munich in the 1950s she found inspiration in pianists Bud Powell, Lenny Tristano and later moved away from Bebop greatly influenced by Horace Silver's blues-inspired rhythmic abilities.
moved to Munich, Germany in early 1950s and in 1952 recorded with saxophonist Hans Koller (1921–2003).
sought out in Germany in January 1954 by music critic Leonard Feather (1914–1994) who had heard recordings of Hipp in 1951 and encouraged by him to come to New York City, which she did.
moved to New York City in November 1955 and played at the Hickory House beginning in March 1956 recording two trio albums for Blue Note Records playing in a more blues drenched style following Horace Silver. Her trio mates were British bassist Peter Ind (1928–2021) and drummer Ed Thigpen (1930–2010) known for his years with pianist Oscar Peterson (1925–2007) for Volumes 1 and 2 (Blue Note, April, 1956) .
“the first white female jazz instrumentalist as well as the first European instrumentalist to be signed by Blue Note Records.”
her first recording for Blue Note Records in 1954 was a live recording with sidemen titled "New Faces, New Sounds from Germany."
Ben Ratliff, in The New York Times 2003 obituary, wrote that Hipp “developed a style that was lean, percussive, swinging and interrupted with plenty of rests, not far from Horace Silver's style but more low-key.”
The Penguin Guide to Jazz observed that Hipp is “not as easy to pigeonhole as some accounts suggest. There are extra notes in many of the chords that give them a tense, slightly jangling quality, but Hipp was also capable of playing with delicate lyricism [ . . . ] and with a rugged, funky edge.”
“As Hipp…matured artistically, she had defined her own artistic standards and revolted when pressured to record music she did not like. She also suffered from severe stage fright throughout her career. Thus being the featured artist at a large performance venue was more of a daunting chore for Hipp than a joyful public celebration of her talent.” – All About Jazz
Shirley Scott (1934–2002)
Blossom Dearie (1924–2009)
Jazz women in 1960's America
the Los Angeles Conservatory offered her a full scholarship, but she attended classes for only a few days before deciding that live performance on the bandstand would help her career more than school 🏫.
Brackeen married and moved her family, including four children, to New York in 1965. She began her career there with such luminaries as George Benson, Paul Chambers, Lee Konitz, Sonny Stitt, and Woody Shaw among others.
Traveling and performing mainly with her own band was a delightful and enriching experience for both Brackeen and her band members, which included Terence Blanchard, Michael Brecker, Ravi Coltrane, Jack DeJohnette, Eddie Gomez, Billy Hart, Horace "El Negro" Hernandez, Branford Marsalis, Cecil McBee, John Patitucci, Chris Potter, and Greg Osby.
Berklee College of Music has recognized Brackeen with the following prestigious honors: a Distinguished Professor Award, an Outstanding Achievement in Education Award, and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Award.
received an Outstanding Educator Award from the International Association for Jazz Education, a Living Legend Award from the International Women in Jazz, and the BNY Mellon Jazz 2014 Living Legacy Award.
received two National Endowment for the Arts grants for commissions and performances and received a U.S. Department of State sponsorship for a tour of the Middle East and Europe in the mid-1980s. She continues to teach and tour internationally, and to date, she has played in 46 different countries.
2018 NEA Jazz Master. Since the program started in 1982, she is one of the few non-singing female musicians crowned an NEA Jazz Master along with trombonist/arranger Melba Liston (1987), pianists and composers Marian McPartland (2000), Toshiko Akiyoshi (2007), Carla Bley (2015), Maria Schneider (2019), and Dorthaan Kirk—recipient of the 2020 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy.
Read John Murph’s “Joanne Brackeen: Still Proudly Unorthodox,” JazzTimes, February 10, 2020.
Listen to her interview with Bob Karcy.
Jazz women in 1970's America
Ahnee Sharon Freeman
Ahnee Sharon Freeman (b. 1958)
Jessica (Jennifer) Williams
(Photo by Jimmy and Deana Katz/courtesy of Jessica Williams)
Jessica (Jennifer) Williams (b. 1948)
started playing the piano at age four with music lessons from a private teacher at five, and enrolled in the Peabody Preparatory at age seven.
a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music.
In June 1976 when twenty-eight years old she began performing regularly with the "Philly Joe" Jones band in New Jersey. Philly Joe (1923–1985) was the drummer for the first Miles Davis Quintet (1955–1958).
Subsequently, she worked with drummer Lex Humphries (1936–1994) in Philadelphia and New York City, before switching to the West Coast in October 1976.
In 1977, Williams moved to San Francisco, where she played in various house bands at the Keystone Korner. She played in the bands of Eddie Harris, Tony Williams, Stan Getz, Bobby Hutcherson, and Charlie Haden, eventually leading her own jazz trio, and recording prolifically for the next several decades.
her musical career was mostly on the West Coast, San Francisco in the 1970s and 80s, and thereafter in the Pacific Northwest, though she toured widely as a soloist and with her trio. She recorded several albums in Portland, Oregon, including two with the great walking bass player Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Mel Brown.
Recorded excellent tribute albums for Thelonious Monk's "In the Key of Monk" (recorded 1997/released 1999) & "More for Monk" (2007) & ("Deep Monk" (2008), Bill Evans (recorded 1996/released 1998), Duke Ellington (recorded 2000/released 2001), Dr. Billy Taylor (2006), Miles Davis (released 2007), and John Coltrane (recorded 2007/released 2011). See and hear from the album covers below.
qualified for two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1984 & 1988).
two-time Grammy Nominee, including her 1986 album "Nothin' But the Truth," and "LIVE at Yoshi's Volume One" in 2004 for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.
In 1997, she established her own record label, Red and Blue Recordings. She also started her publishing company, JJW Music/ASCAP, and an internet mail order business, jessicawilliams.com (now defunct).
was a guest on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross March 29, 2002.
Presented a plaque of civic appreciation from Mayor of Sacramento, CA Anne Rudin with a key to the City of Sacramento (1989).
One of the TOP 5 CDs of 2000 (JazzTimes Critics Poll — "In the Key of Monk").
One of the TOP 5 CDs of 1999 (JazzTimes Critics Poll — "Joyful Sorrow").
appeared in festivals and venues worldwide, including the Purcell Room in London, the Bern Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the New Morning in Paris, Spivey Hall in Georgia, the Opera House in Tokyo, and hundreds of other venues.
Nothin' But the Truth — 1986
Live At Yoshi's, Vol. 1 — 2004
National Endowment for the Arts grants — 1984, 1988
Rockefeller Grant (composing) — 1989
Alice B. Toklas Grant for Women Composers — 1992
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship — 1995
Presented the keys to the city of Sacramento, California.
Four grants from the Sacramento Arts Commission.
Presented the Keys to the City of San Mateo, California.
Artist of the Year in Santa Cruz County — 2002
Jazz Record of the Year for two consecutive years in the Jazz Journal International Reader's Poll.
Billboard Magazine charting: "This Side Up" — Top Jazz Albums, peak No. 24, 2002
Jazz women in 1980's America
Emily Remler (1957-1990)
released six albums with her own groups (1981), (1982), (1984), (1985), (1988) and a duet album with Larry Coryell (1985).
her final album, "This is Me," was her first entry into the contemporary jazz-pop realm.
Terri Lyne Carrington
|🔸 Kris Davis|
her primary musical influences were her four mentors Marcus Belgrave, Donald Walden, Betty Carter, and Dr. Billy Taylor, as well as pianists Bud Powell, Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk, Hank Jones, Alice Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner, and Herbie Hancock.
became a charter member of the Black Rock Coalition and the Brooklyn M-Base movement in mid 1980s, including saxophonists Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Gary Thomas, and vocalist Cassandra Wilson among others.
played on several of Steve Coleman's albums, including his first, "Motherland Pulse," (1985) providing the composition "The Glide Was in the Ride", (click on song title to listen) a track listed on the "New Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz" (2011).
was the original keyboarder of Steve Coleman's M-Base band Five Elements.
had her debut album as leader, "The Printmakers" (1984), with Anthony Cox and Andrew Cyrille recorded in Germany and released by the newly founded German label Minor Music.
played piano on bassist Charlie Haden's album "Etudes" (1988) in a trio with drummer Paul Motian.
played on drummer Paul Motian's album "Monk in Motian" (1988).
first woman, and youngest person, to receive the Danish Jazzpar Prize (1996).
her album "Flying Toward the Sound" was rated one of the Best Of 2010 on NPR, DownBeat magazine, the All About Jazz website, and the Village Voice's Jazz Critics' Poll.
was a curator in New York City at the STONE (2012).
part of two recent groundbreaking trios: ACS (Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Esperanza Spalding) and the MAC Power Trio with David Murray and Terri Lyne Carrington with their debut recording "Perfection" (2016) released on Motéma Music to critical acclaim.
Saskia Laroo (b. 1959)
Dena DeRose (b. 1966)
[[file:DenaDeRose.jpeg link=http://denaderose.com/about/ Dena DeRose|alt=.]]
Another World DeRose began playing piano when she was three and, in addition to her piano lessons, she studied classical organ and percussion. In school. She played in the orchestra, the marching band, and the jazz band, and accompanied musicals. She took classes in classical piano at SUNY Binghamton and worked as a jazz pianist in upstate New York. But in the mid-'80s she was struck with a combination of arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome that greatly affected her right hand. She had two operations and was unable to play piano at all for two years. It looked as if her musical career was over before it had really begun. But one night while in a jazz club with some friends, she took a dare to sing. DeRose did well and enjoyed the experience so much that within a few weeks she was booking herself as a singer. By the time she was becoming well known as a jazz vocalist, her hand had completely recovered, and she became a singer/pianist. In 1991, DeRose moved to New York City, where she began working the club circuit. Since then, she has also become a busy music educator, but appears regularly at jazz festivals. In addition to leading her own trio, DeRose has worked with such major names as Randy Brecker, Bruce Forman, Ray Brown, Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Houston Person, and Ken Peplowski. As a solo artist, DeRose made her debut in 1996 with Introducing Dena DeRose on Sharp Nine Records, followed by 1999's Another World, 2001's I Can See Clearly Now, and 2002's Love's Holiday. DeRose next moved to MaxJazz for several well-received albums, including 2005's A Walk in the Park and 2012's Travelin' Light. She then paid tribute to one of her idols, legendary pianist/vocalist Shirley Horn, with 2014's We Won't Forget You: An Homage to Shirley Horn on HighNote Records. In 2016, DeRose released her eighth studio album, United, featuring guest appearances from longtime associates trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and guitarist Peter Bernstein.
La Rosita Two years later, DeRose served as pianist in tenorist Scott Hamilton's quartet on La Rosita, and in 2019 stretched her own boundaries on Alpenglow in Copenhagen serving as pianist in an avant improvising trio with bassist Mads Vindig and improvising vocalist Annette Giesriegl. In 2020, DeRose returned as a bandleader for High Note with Ode to the Road. The set featured her trio with guest trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, saxophonist Houston Person, and vocalist Sheila Jordan on select cuts.
Jazz women in 1990's America
Lena Bloch (b. 1962)
Lena plays marvelous tones. See and hear it for yourself at the opening of "Heart Knows." Who can play like this? Oh yeah, John Coltrane.
““In jazz”, muses Lena Bloch, “many things come together that are thought of as opposites: mind and feeling, responsibility and abandonment, looseness and precision, improvisation and composition. I just love that.”
Born in Moscow, Russia, Lena Bloch immigrated to Israel to attend the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance (now called the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance) and afterwards moved to Europe in 1990, where she became a part of the European jazz scene in Germany and Holland for twelve years.
after moving to Brooklyn, New York🗽 in 2008 has performed with, among others, Dan Tepfer, Roberta Piket, Brad Linde, and Sarah Hughes, George Schuller, Frank Carlberg, Putter Smith, Mark Ferber, Sumi Tonooka, Kim Clarke, Vishnu Wood, and Vladimir Shafranov contributing to the development of the tradition of spontaneous improvising and open musical communication.
a fifteen year disciple of saxophonist Lee Konitz (1927–2020), a close friend.
She was a frontman in Vishnu Wood Quartet (2008-2014) and performed with this group at several festivals (with Vishnu Wood, James Weidman, Bertha Hope, Makaya MacCraven, R J Miller).
Lena has been a part of Lady Got Chops festival (NY State) with groups led by Mala Waldron, Sumi Tonooka, Kim Clarke.
Other musicians Lena has worked with, are Arturo O’Farrill, George Schuller, Putter Smith, Bill Wurtzel, Scott Wendholt and many others.
In 2014 Lena Bloch was invited as a soloist with New York Chamber Players Orchestra, performing the concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra by Eric Koenig at the Merkin Concert Hall.
5 years ago Lena’s own project came to life, when she met the nucleus of her recent quartet: bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Billy Mintz, both stellar musicians with tremendous experience and deep understanding of music. With these colleagues and a very talented young guitarist from Chicago, Dave Miller, Lena recorded her first album as a leader. The album “Feathery” was top-rated in Downbeat Magazine, Pop Culture Classics, Jazz Inside Magazine, New York City Jazz Record, France Musique, Canadian Audiophile, Music Charts Magazine – and was voted the best debut release of 2014 by Dan Morgenstern, as well as one of the top 10 Jazz Albums 2014 (Just Jazz, USA) and top 50 Jazz Albums 2014 (JazzLinks, Austria-Germany).
After Miller’s departure from NYC, Lena’s quartet took a different turn, when in 2014 pianist and composer Russ Lossing joined the group. Lena Bloch Quartet, called Feathery, has been performing regularly since then, presenting original music, written by Lena and Russ. The quartet has performed in various New York City and Brooklyn concert spaces and jazz clubs, has released its album “Heart Knows” in 2017 (Fresh Sound Records) and was selected to perform at the showcase for the 40th National Chamber Music Conference in NYC (2018).
Lena’s inspirations and interests come from her musical experience and study with masters. She studied with Yusef Lateef in Massachusetts, Kaveh Dalir-Azar from Iran in Germany, David Liebman in his European workshops, Dave Holland and Joe Lovano in Banff Canada, and, most notably, with Lee Konitz, whom she met in 2001 in Cologne.
She acquired her Artist Diploma from Cologne Conservatory (Germany), where her teachers were Keith Copeland and John Marshall, with whom she also performed with her quartet.
In Europe Lena Bloch has met and performed with fabulous jazz musicians and masters, such as Mal Waldron, Johnny Griffin, Horace Parlan, Alvin Queen, Jurai Stanik.
In 2000-2002 she was the saxophonist and composer with the legendary jazz percussionist Steve Reid (album “Live In Europe”, Mustevic Records, 2000), along with Boris Netsvetaev and Chris Lachotta.
In 2003, graduate school followed – Master’s Degree in Composition and teaching assistantship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst – study with Salvatore Macchia and Jeff Holmes.
She played the first tenor chair in the Jazz Ensemble and got a “Downbeat Student Award” 2005 and MENC Award 2004 in Minneapolis.
With her unique cultural background, Lena is working in a “singular manner” (as Mark Keresman of NYC Jazz Record puts it), towards an original style and very personal expression. Her inspirations range from Eastern European and Middle Eastern tradition to 20th-21st Century and Western classical music.
Lena is also an active instructor and clinician, teaching woodwinds and improvisation, member of Jazz Education Network, New Music USA and Chamber Music America.
She served as a panelist for National Endowment for the Arts in 2015.
Currently a faculty member at Slope Music, Brooklyn.
– and since then traveled the world, performing in various settings in Israel, Holland, Italy, Germany, Belgium, England, Canada, Russia, Slovenia and United States.
In 1994 Lena received a full scholarship for Jazz In July workshop, to study with Yusef Lateef and Billy Taylor, and won the “Outstanding Performance Award.”
Lena acquired her Artist Diploma cum laude from Cologne Conservatory, Germany, in 1999. There she studied with great American jazz artists Keith Copeland and John Marshall.
In 1999 Lena was granted a full scholarship to attend Jazz Workshop in Banff, Canada, where she studied with Joe Lovano, Kenny Werner and Dave Holland.
In 2001 Lena met her most important teacher, Lee Konitz, who she studied with until recently. Lee introduced Lena to the music of Lennie Tristano’s school, especially Warne Marsh.
Lena received her Master’s of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Composition from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2006, where she was studying with Salvatore Macchia and Jeff Holmes. She played the first tenor chair in the Jazz Ensemble and got a “Downbeat Student Award” 2005 and MENC Award 2004 in Minneapolis.
Since 1993 Lena has been leading her own quartet and trio, writing music and arranging.
With her unique cultural background, Lena is working towards a unique style, her musical influences in jazz ranging from European Classical tradition to Middle Eastern and Turkish music.
Lena became interested in Arabic, Persian and Turkish music in Germany, where she met many immigrant musicians and played in the legendary “Embryo” band, who she toured the Italy with.
In her own compositions, Lena incorporates Middle-Eastern and Eastern European elements into jazz idiom, achieving a unique sound. She is also an inventive improviser and a refreshing performer of standard jazz material.
In Europe Lena has met and performed with fabulous jazz musicians and masters, such as Mal Waldron, Johnny Griffin, Horace Parlan, Keith Copeland, John Marshall, Alvin Queen.
She met the legendary jazz percussionist Steve Reid and recorded a CD with him, “Steve Reid Live In Europe.”
After she moved to United States, Lena worked with Vishnu Wood, Arturo O’Farrill, George Schuller, Billy Mintz, Dave Shapiro, Roberta Piket, Scott Wendholt, Dan Tepfer, Jeremy Stratton, Chris Higgins, Bill Wurtzel, Kim Clarke, Bertha Hope, Ted Brown, Jimmy Wormworth, Taro Okamoto, and Shinnosuke Takahashi.
Lee Konitz invited Lena to sit in with his quintet at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in the summer of 2008, with the band which included Dan Tepfer, Peter Bernstein, Ray Drummond and Matt Wilson.
In 2009 Lena recorded some CD material with Vadim Neselovskyi on piano and George Kaye on bass.
Lena has performed in various venues in NY, such as Birdland, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Smalls Jazz Club, St.Peter Church Jazz Ministry, St.Marks Church, Sofia’s, Fat Cat, Puppets, 5C, The Old Stone House Brooklyn and others.
As a member of other bands, Lena Bloch has played with “Ambassadors of Light” (Vermont), Vermont Jazz Center Big Band, Vishnu Wood Safari East, Kim Clarke’s Inner Circle, Bill Wurtzel Trio, Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz Orchestra and most recently as a guest artist with Brad Linde Ensemble, Lester Young Birthday Tribute and Jimmy Giuffre – Gerry Mulligan projects.
Red Sea Jazz Festival – Eilat, Israel 1990
Leipziger Jazz Newcomers Competition, winner – Lepzig, Germany 2000
Leverkusener Jazz Tage – Leverkusen, Germany, 2001
Ingolstadter Jazz Tage – Ingolstadt, Germany, 2001
Jazz Lent Maribor (with Alvin Queen) – Slovenia 2002
Voronezh Jazz Festival – Russia 2002
Women In Jazz Festival – Amherst MA USA 2004
Lady Got Chops Festival – New York City NY USA, 2010 and 2011
Temple Of The Arts Jazz Festival – 2011, 2012, 2013
Lena’s debut album “Feathery” (2014, Thirteenth Note Records) was top-rated in Downbeat Magazine, Pop Culture Classics, Jazz Inside Magazine, New York City Jazz Record, France Musique, Canadian Audiophile, Music Charts Magazine – and was voted the best debut release of 2014 by Dan Morgenstern, as well as one of the top 10 Jazz Albums 2014 (Just Jazz, USA) and top 50 Jazz Albums 2014 (JazzLinks, Austria-Germany).
Lena currently is leading her quartet with Russ Lossing (piano), Cameron Brown (bass) and Billy Mintz (drums).
Lena is also a creative and inventive educator, successfully teaching woodwinds and jazz improvisation to all ages and levels since 1990, currently a faculty member at Slope Music (Brooklyn).
Selected jazz festivals:
Roberta Gambarini (b. 1965)
ROBERTA GAMBARINI was born in Torino, Italy, into a family where jazz was much loved and appreciated. She began listening to this music as a child and started taking clarinet lessons when she was twelve years old. By the time she was 17, she began singing and performing in jazz clubs around Northern Italy and at the age of 18, she decided to move to Milan to pursue a career as a jazz singer.
Soon after her move to Milan, Roberta took third place in a national jazz radio competition on TV, leading to performance opportunities at jazz festivals throughout Italy. She performed on Jazz broadcasts on Italian radio and TV channels and in 1986 began recording both under her own name and as a guest. In 1997, she worked with French Hammond organ player Emmanuel Bex, touring jazz clubs throughout Italy.
In 1998 she moved to the United States with a scholarship from the New England Conservatory in Boston. Two weeks later, Roberta stunned many in the jazz world with a third place finish in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition.
A dynamic performer with virtuosic vocal chops, she draws rave reviews and enthusiastic fan support wherever she performs. And until her North American debut, Easy to Love (Groovin’ High/Kindred Rhythm), was released on June 6, 2006, she had done so with just word of mouth alone.
On Easy to Love, Roberta showed off her instrumental approach and warm timbre, impeccable timing and intonation, incredible technique and scatting and improvisation skills on a set of 12 excellent jazz standards and classic songs from The Great American Songbook. The album also included two bonus tracks and featured special guest James Moody on a scintillating scat duel.
Easy to Love was nominated for a GRAMMY® in 2007 in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category (along with albums by Karrin Allyson, Nancy King, Diana Krall, and Nancy Wilson). Roberta’s “formidable talent” (DownBeat Magazine) has also garnered her wins as the 2007 Female Jazz Singer of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) and as the 2007 Talent Deserving Wider Recognition from DownBeat Magazine’s Annual Critics Poll.
On February 12, 2008, Roberta made her major label debut with You Are There (Groovin’ High/Emarcy), a collection of 14 hauntingly beautiful melodies, with the legendary pianist, Hank Jones. The music was recorded in one afternoon; Roberta and Hank had no concept for the album- just 25 tunes they liked and thought would be interesting to record. “There were no isolation booths, no headphones, no over dubs,” Gambarini remembers. “The sound would be just what you would hear had you been in someone’s living room playing among friends.” That is the magic of Hank Jones.
Roberta Gambarini has performed with Michael Brecker, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Slide Hampton, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Hank Jones, Christian McBride, and Toots Thielemans, among many others, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Town Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall, and jazz festivals around the world such as Barbados, London, Monterey, North Sea, Toronto, and Umbria.
Roberta was recently voted Rising Star Female Vocalist of the Year in 2008 DownBeat Critics Poll. Roberta will tour internationally with her band in support of her new album, So In Love, which is scheduled for a Summer 2009 release.
DIVA jazz orchestra
DIVA Jazz Orchestra
See and listen to the DIVA band Live at Birdland swinging away.
recording of four musicians from the jazz big band Diva (founded in 1992)—bassist Melissa Slocum (b. 1961) (center top of album cover), pianist Jill McCarron (b. 1961) (center bottom), alto saxophonist Carol Chaikin (b. 1959) (left on album cover), and drummer Sherrie Maricle (b. 1963) (right on album cover).
Melissa Slocum (born July 26, 1961) is an American double bass player who is active in both jazz and classical music.
The following is an English translation of the German Wikipedia page on Melissa Slocum.
“Life and work: Slocum grew up in a musician household in Ohio (her father was a horn player in the Cleveland Orchestra; her mother, a professor of medieval studies, played the viola) and began playing the piano at the age of three. She was encouraged by her parents to study classical music. She started playing bass guitar at the age of twelve, and a year later she began performing professionally as a musician. A gifted girl, she graduated from high school at the age of 15. By age 18, she had earned a bachelor's degree in classical piano music from Youngstown State University; she spent another year there to get a second degree in art history, specializing in ancient Egyptian art.
Leslie Gourse (1939-2004), Madame Jazz: Contemporary Women Instrumentalists (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995). Clicking on the ISBN number takes you to Amazon.com where you can see inside of this book: ISBN 0-19-508696-1.
Quotations below from Carolyn Glenn Brewer, Changing The Tune: The Kansas City Women's Jazz Festival 1978–1985 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 9–13. Some paragraphs combined into one block quotation.
“When Dianne called Marian (McPartland), the quintet was preparing for a three-night gig in Rochester, New York, and a live recording. Marian had picked an eclectic bouquet of players. Veteran guitarist Mary Osborne, whom many called the best guitarist of her generation, was already well known to New York audiences. Dottie Dodgion on drums had made her reputation playing and singing in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco with Charles Mingus and Al Cohn, among others. Vi Redd's soulfully fearless alto saxophone sound had complimented the groups of both Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie. Marian picked bassist Lynn Milano, the youngest of the group by a generation and a graduate of Eastman, because her sound contradicted her petite size. None of the women had played together as a group before. (bold not in original)
“ . . . Goodman, girls learned to swing as strongly as their dance partners. But firmly established cultural stereotypes kept denying that this was so. In a February 1938 Down Beat opinion piece, an anonymous writer stated, "Women as a whole are emotionally unstable, which prevents their being consistent performers on musical instruments." Bandleader and saxophonist Peggy Gilbert lost no time writing a rebuttal. "The manager is constantly reminding the girls not to take the music so seriously, but to relax, to smile," Gilbert wrote in Down Beat in April of 1938. "How can you smile with a horn in your mouth? How can you relax when a girdle is throttling you and the left brassiere strap holds your arm in a vice?" The undeniable truth was that a female jazz artist's popularity was based on visual attributes rather than musical expertise. Long, flowing, tight-waisted gowns, with billowing sleeves, in cotton candy colors, defined the dress code. Saxophonist Roz Cron remembers a particularly humiliating outfit. "I was playing at the Oriental Theater in Chicago with Ada Leonard's band," Cron recalls. "The manager brought out this god-awful, pink thing and said that was what I was to wear. It had all these flounces and flares and ruffles. I was mortified. I'm a professional, not a dress up doll. I hated that costume with a passion." Another member of the band stated, "A man could have white hair and glasses and weigh 300 pounds, but if he could play, great. The girls had to look like starlets. And the things they put on us were unbelievable." (bold not in original)
“Even the highly successful and popular all-female group Hour of Charm, led by Phil Spitalny, one of the few men to front a girl band, was founded in musical compromise. Spitalny publicly made it clear that he wasn't looking for a powerful, hard-swinging sound. In a band that employed more violins than brass, two pianos, and a harp, it's not surprising their repertoire consisted of mostly mellow, sweet tunes. That also pleased the sponsors of the Sunday night radio show of the same name. The listening public deemed Hour of Charm the ideal all-female band. It wasn't only the jazz world that discriminated against female players. Girl harpists and violinists might be acceptable on a stage clouded with taffeta and sequined dresses. Anonymous female trombonists and bassists could be heard on radio broadcasts without public outcry. But in the male dominated world of symphony orchestras, the subject of female members wasn't even open for discussion. It would be 1982 before the Berlin Philharmonic hired a woman. In Vienna it was 1997.  (bold not in original)
Ingrid Laubrock (b. 1970)
Jazz women in 20th century
🔸 Geri Allen (1957–2017) American (Pittsburgh) pianist, composer, and educator.
🔸 Renee Rosnes (b. 1962) Canadian jazz pianist, composer, and arranger.
🔸 Cindy Blackman Santana (b. 1959) American jazz and rock drummer.
🔸 Jane Bunnett (b. 1956) Canadian soprano saxophonist, flautist, bandleader, and educator especially known for performing Afro-Cuban jazz and often traveling to Cuba.
🔸 Mary Lou Williams (1910–1981)
🔸 Dorothy Donegan (1922–1998) American jazz pianist, vibraphonist, and vocalist, primarily known for performing in the stride piano and boogie-woogie style as well as playing bebop, swing jazz, and even classical music.
🔸 Marian McPartland (1918– 2013) English-American jazz pianist, composer, and writer. hosted "Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz" on National Public Radio from 1978 to 2011.
🔸 Mary Osborne (1921–1992) American jazz guitarist
🔸 Toshiko Akiyoshi (b. 1929) Japanese-American jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader.
June, the Universal Jazz Coalition will present a four‐day “Salute to Women in Jazz” in New York from Monday, June 26, through Thursday, June 29, in the room at 52d Street and Broadway that was once the legendary Birdland (it is now a disco known as CasaBlanca 2).
The Salute will provide a showcase for some of the women who are not as celebrated as the stars who played in Kansas City, among them
🔸 Carline Ray (b. 1925) American jazz pianist, guitarist, and vocalist. She was a member of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.
🔸 Janice Elaine Robinson (b. 1959) American (Pennsylvania) trombonist.
🔸 Patti Bown (1931–2008) American jazz pianist, composer, and singer.
🔸 JoAnne Brackeen (b. 1938) American jazz pianist and music educator.
🔸 Corky Hale (b. 1936), American jazz harpist, pianist, flutist, and vocalist. She has been a theater producer, political activist, restaurateur, and the owner of the Corky Hale women's clothing store in Los Angeles, California.
🔸 Emmelyne "Emme" Kemp (b. 1936), pianist, vocalist, band leader, Broadway composer, actress, lecturer, and an American music researcher. A protégé of Eubie Blake and best known as a Broadway composer and actor for Bubbling Brown Sugar. Acted in the Woody Allen film "Sweet and Lowdown." She has performed throughout the United States, Germany and Japan.
🔸 Jill McManus (b. 1940), American jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and author.
🔸 Nina Sheldon (b. 1940), American pianist, singer, composer and lyricist.
🔸 Led the house band at the Village Gate (1974 –1977) in New York City. Has played with Sonny Stitt, George Coleman, Maxine Sullivan, Budd Johnson, Bobby Hackett, and Vic Dickenson. Taught jazz history and improvisation at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland. Performed at major jazz festivals such as Newport jazz festival and the Kool jazz festival in New York and the Kansas City Women's jazz festival.
A set of three records providing background on the involvement of women with jazz, produced by Bernard Brightman.
three disks on “Women in Jazz,” collections of recordings made between 1926 and 1961, providing a very convincing demonstration that women, singly and in groups, have been making impressive contributions to jazz since its earliest recorded days and doing it for the most part, in relative anonymity.
🔸 Vi Burnside (1915–1964), saxophonist
🔸 Vi Redd, saxophonist
🔸 Valaida Snow, trumpeter
🔸 Jean Starr, trumpeter
🔸 Marion Gange, a guitarist
🔸 Terry Pollard, vibes and piano
🔸 Lovie Austin, a pianist in Chicago in the 20's around whom a whole school of male musicians flourished
🔸 International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all‐woman big band
🔸 Beryl Booker, a pianist who is heard urging Miles Davis’ trumpet along on Tadd Dameron's “Squirrel”
🔸 Kathy Stobart, an English saxophonist
🔸 Jutta Hipp, a German pianist
🔸 Japan's ground‐breaking contribution to jazz, Toshiko Akiyoshi, pianist and conductor
Jazz women in 21st Century
Ingrid Jensen, Anat Cohen, Sherrie Maricle and the indomitable DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Geri Allen, Cindy Blackman, Tia Fuller
Kris Davis (b. 1980)
🔸 Canadian jazz pianist and composer
Esperanza Spalding (b. 1984)
🔸Esperanza Spalding (b. 1984) Musician, composer, educator, bandleader on double bass, bass guitar, guitar, vocals
Sarah Milligan (b. 1998)
Performed at the Next Generation Jazz Festival
(from l. to r.: bassist Noriko Ueda, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, clarinetist Anat Cohen,
pianist Renee Rosnes, drummer Allison Miller, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant)
🔸 releases their first album in 2020.
(from l. to r.: pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Noriko Ueda, vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana,
drummer Allison Miller hidden behind to left of clarinetist Anat Cohen, and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen)
Internet & Bibliographic Resources on Women in Jazz
NOTE: The information below varies in formatting and does not conform to standard bibliographic formatting for ease of reading.
Kai EL' Zabar (Executive Director of the eta Creative Arts Foundation in Chicago, IL as of July 2019), "Eleven Jazzy Divas Celebrate Women's History Month," The Chicago Defender, March 9, 2016. The featured vocalists include Joan Collaso, Bobbi Wilsyn, Tecora Rogers, Yvonne Gage, Maggie Brown, Julia Huff, Margaret Murphy-Webb, Lynne Jordan, Frieda Lee, Greta Pope, and Felena Bunn singing the music of Chaka Khan, Nancy WIlson, Ella Fitzgerald, Dianne Reeves, Phyllis Hymen, Abbie Lincoln, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt and more.
- Lovie Austin, pianist (1887–1972)
- Lil Hardin Armstrong, pianist (1898–1971)
- Valaida Snow, trumpeter (1904–1956)
- Peggy Gilbert, saxophonist (1905–2007)
- Una Mae Carlisle, pianist (1915–1956)
- Ginger Smock, violinist (1920–1995)
- Dorothy Donegan, pianist (1922–1998)
- Jutta Hipp, pianist (1925–2003)
- Clora Bryant, trumpeter (1927–2019)
- Bertha Hope-Booker, pianist (1936– )
- Louise "Lou" Paley and Nina Fine are addressing the gender imbalance in jazz in the United Kingdom in practical and positive ways.
Cecilia Björck and Åsa Bergman, "Making Women in Jazz Visible: Negotiating Discourses of Unity and Diversity in Sweden and the US," IASPM Journal, Vol 8, No 1 (2018).
Abstract: “The aim of this article is to examine responses to a project that aspires to further gender-equal jazz scenes in Sweden and the US. The project brought together actors at various levels of the industry: cultural agencies, commercial organizers, activists, and artists. Our analysis—with special focus on resistance-voiced—is based on observations, interviews with organizers, and a documentary about the project. The project’s central ambition was to make women in jazz visible in order to change a structural imbalance where men still take up most of the space on stage. This ambition was, however, complicated as different actors resisted a female–male binary, and thus the very idea of “women in jazz.” The resistance was played out through gender equality discourses of either unity or diversity, varying in relation to national context and generation. The article also discusses visibility as a central but also problematic aspect for gender equality efforts in music.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
By 1999, little had changed in mainstream jazz historiography as evidenced by the continued absence of many prominent jazzwomen from the jazz sections of the Reader’s Guide to Music History, Theory, and Criticism edited by Jeremy Steib.
Linda Dahl. Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen. New York: Limelight Editions, 1989. In addition to an impressive collection of biographical information and an extensive discography, Dahl includes chapters such as “Equal time: Beyond the Fraternity, Toward Community” and “Building a Support System,” which further contextualize female participation and give voice to a budding movement toward the normalization of gender in jazz.
Angela Y. Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday, first Vintage Books edition, February 1999. Published in the United Slates by Vintage Books, a division of Random Home, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 1998.
Jeffrey Taylor, “With Lovie and Lil: Rediscovering Two Chicago Pianists of the 1920s” (conference paper), Society for Music Theory, Annual Meeting, Columbus, OH, November 1, 2002. Reprinted in Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies, Edited by Nichole T. Rustin & Sherrie Tucker, Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.
"A DIY Guide to the History of Women in Jazz" by Laura Pelligrinelli at NPR'S A BLOG SUPREME, May 10, 2013.
"Ireland’s jazz scene continued to grow in strength and diversity in 2019: Smaller regional festivals were major successes while a number of important projects were led by Irish and Irish-based women," The Irish Times News, Saturday, Dec 7, 2019.
Jazz, Gender, Authenticity, Proceedings of the 10th Nordic Jazz Research Conference Stockholm August 30–31 2012, Alf Arvidsson, editor, 2014. The articles published here are the authors’s revised versions of the presentations at the 10th Nordic Jazz Conference: Gender and Notions of Authenticity in Jazz, Stockholm, August 30–31, 2012. ISBN: 978–91–979205–3–7. ISSN: 0281–5567.
"Polyrhythms And Improvization: Lessons For Women's History," Elsa Barkley Brown, History Workshop 31 (1991), 85-90. America: History and Life with Full Text.
"Sound Recordings Reviews," Cheryl L. Keyes (Professor in Department of African American Studies at UCLA and Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Ethnomusicology), Journal Of American Folklore, 105.415 (1992), 73.
"Beyond Beethoven And The Boyz: Women's Music In Relation To History And Culture," Britain Scott and Christiane Harrassowitz, Music Educators Journal, 90.4 (2004), 50.
"Telling Performances: Jazz History Remembered And Remade By The Women In The Band," Sherrie Tucker, The Oral History Review, Volume 26, Issue 1, Winter-Spring 1999, 67–84. http://doi.org/10.1093/ohr/26.1.67
"Black Women Working Together: Jazz, Gender, and the Politics of Validation," Tammy L. Kernodle, Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Spring), 27-55.
Rosetta Reitz (1924–2008) obituary written by Douglas Martin, "Rosetta Reitz, Champion of Jazz Women, Dies at 84, NY Times, November 14, 2008.
Leslie Gourse, "Madame Jazz: Contemporary Women Instrumentalists. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Leslie Gourse published Madame Jazz “the most comprehensive list ever assembled of women currently playing instruments professionally.” Gourse provides a balanced look at the bright future of female instrumentalists with an acknowledgment of the reality that chauvinism is (and was) alive and well.
- “Madame Jazz is a fascinating invitation to the inside world of women in jazz. Ranging primarily from the late 1970s to today's vanguard of performance jazz in New York City and on the West Coast, it chronicles a crucial time of transition as women make the leap from novelty acts regarded as second class citizens to sought-out professionals admired and hired for their consummate musicianship. Author Leslie Gourse surveys the scene in the jazz clubs, the concert halls, the festivals, and the recording studios from the musicians' point of view. She finds exciting progress on all fronts, but also lingering discrimination. The growing success of women instrumentalists has been a long time in coming, she writes. Long after women became accepted as writers and, to a lesser extent, as visual artists, women in music—classical, pop, or jazz—faced the nearly insuperable barrier of chauvinism and the still insidious force of tradition and habit that keeps most men performing with the musicians they have always worked with, other men.”
- “Ivy Benson was born to be a musician. A good pianist by the age of ten, she was influenced by the music of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and other jazz legends to become a professional instrumentalist—and at age fifteen, having taught herself to play the clarinet and saxophone, Benson joined an all-girl band in Yorkshire, England. Sax Appeal chronicles Benson’s life—beginning with her childhood of relative poverty, exploring her time as a teenage musician playing in the seedy clubs of London, and highlighting her founding of a professional all-female jazz and swing band that would remain active for over forty years.”
- “In Peggy Gilbert & Her All-Girl Band, Jeannie Gayle Pool profiles the fascinating life of this multi-talented saxophone player, arranger, bandleader, and advocate for women instrumental musicians. Based on oral history interviews and Gilbert's collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, and other memorabilia, this book includes many materials not previously available on all-women bands from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.”
Sherrie Tucker. "Telling Performances: Jazz History Remembered and Remade by the Women in the Band." Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture. Volume 1, 1997.
Sherrie Tucker. "Telling Performances: Jazz History Remembered and Remade by the Women in the Band". The Oral History Review (Winter–Spring 1999) 26 (1): 67–84. doi:10.1093/ohr/26.1.67. JSTOR 3675691.
- “The forgotten history of the “all-girl” big bands of the World War II era takes center stage in Sherrie Tucker’s Swing Shift. Although all-female jazz and dance bands had existed since the 1920s, now hundreds of such groups', both African American and white, barnstormed ballrooms, theaters, dance halls, military installations, and makeshift USO stages on the home front and abroad. Filled with firsthand accounts of more than a hundred women who performed during this era and complemented by thorough—and eye-opening—archival research, Swing Shift not only offers a history of this significant aspect of American society and culture but also examines how and why whole bands of dedicated and talented women musicians were dropped from—or never inducted into—our national memory. Comparing the working conditions and public representations of women musicians with figures such as Rosie the Riveter, WACs, USO hostesses, pin-ups, and movie stars, Tucker chronicles the careers of such bands as the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Phil Spitalny’s Hours of Charm, The Darlings of Rhythm, and the Sharon Rogers All-Girl Band.” (bold and bold italic not in original)
Sherrie Tucker. "A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazzwomen," Sherrie Tucker Principal Investigator, submitted by Center for Research University of Kansas, September 30, 2004 to New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park National Park, a study of women in New Orleans jazz, contracted by the National Park Service, completed between 2001 and 2004.
Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Café Society, and An Early Cry for Civil Rights. David Margolick. 2000.
Jazz women: a Feminist Retrospective (1923–57) (Stash) 2 LPs.
Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen. Linda Dahl. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984.
“Women in Jazz, Past and Present.” John S. Wilson. The New York Times. June 11, 1978.
"Women in Jazz Town Hall (A jazz conversation)," hosted by Kaisha S. Johnson, Jazz at Lincoln Center's World Congress 2020.
Jazzwomen Speak: Interviews with Six Musicians, Wayne Enstice and Janis Stockhouse, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013).
The musician's interviewed are: (1) JoAnne Brackeen, piano and composition, (2) Clara Bryant, trumpet, (3) Sheila Jordan, vocals, (4) Abbey Lincoln, vocals, (5) Marian McPartland, piano and composition, (6) Dottie Dodgion, drums.
Maxine Gordon's website. Maxine Gordon has had a long involvement with jazz, including working with the queen of the jazz organ Shirley Scott, producing a son with trumpeter Woody Shaw (1978), becoming wife of saxophonist Dexter Gordon (1983), tour manager for Gil Evan's big band, road manager for the Berlin Jazz Festival (1973), road manager for Dexter Gordon's return from Europe to the United States (1976–1983), author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon (2018), an oral historian and archivist in the fields of jazz and African American cultural history, New York University, M.A., (2001–2009) Ph.D. Candidate, History (African Diaspora). In 2020 still working on her newest book, Jazz Quartette: Shirley Scott, Velma Middleton, Melba Liston, Maxine Sullivan.
🔸 Fiona Ross, "Maxine Gordon and the Jazz Flame," Interview with Maxine Gordon, Part 1, at the Jazz in Europe website, March 8, 2021.
🔸 Fiona Ross, "Maxine Gordon and the Jazz Flame," Interview with Maxine Gordon, Part 2, at the Jazz in Europe website, March 8, 2021.
- Peter Keepnews, "Marian McPartland, Jazz Pianist and NPR Radio Staple, Dies at 95," New York Times, August 21, 2013.
- Dinitia Smith, "When Women Called the Tunes; Rediscovering the Players Who Kept Things Swinging After the Men Went to War, NYTimes, August 10, 2000.
- Kristen A. McGee, Some Liked It Hot: Jazz Women in Film and Television, 1928–1959 (Middleton, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2009), 11.
- Ted Gioia, The History of Jazz 3rd edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021), 197–199.] First published in 1997 with second revised edition in 2011.
- happyfeetjazz, "Bunk, Bertha & Buddy Bolden," posted on June 3, 2014.
- Sherrie Tucker, "A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazz Women: A NOJNHP Research Study, September 30, 2004, 266–267.
- See Note A., "This Is Bunk Johnson Talking, Explaining To You The Early Days Of New Orleans," Label: American Music – 643, Format: Vinyl, 10", Album, Mono, Country: US, Released: 1952.
- Basilio Serrano, Puerto Rican Women from the Jazz Age (Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2019), Ch. 3.
- Birthdate of Marie Lucas listed as 1891 under the sub-heading "Personal Life" in Wikipedia: Sam Lucas.
- D. Antoinette Handy (1930–2002), Black Women in America's Bands and Orchestras (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1981), 59.
- Eileen Southern (1920–2002), The Music Of Black Americans, 3rd edition (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1997), 349.
- Faye P. Watkins (Dean of University Libraries at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida), "L: Marie Lucas," in Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance Era ed. Lean'tin L. Bracks and Jessie Carney Smith (Latham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), scroll down to 148.
- Marion Harris, at JazzStandards.com. Accessed July 21, 2021.
- Alex Vadukul, "Viola Smith, 'Fastest Girl Drummer in the World,' Dies at 107," New York Times, published Nov. 6, 2020, updated Nov. 9, 2020.
- Vincent Pelote, Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan, Notes, vol. 51, no. 1, (1994), 204.
- Scott Yanow, "Melba Liston," AllMusic.com. Accessed May 25, 2021.
- Mary Lou Williams Interview, Melody Maker, April to June, 1954.
- Cassandra Jensen, "Top 10 Reasons Mary Lou Williams Should Be Your Favorite Jazz Musician," BlackPublicMedia.org, (March 31, 2015), third paragraph.
- Encyclopedia Brittanica: Mary Lou Williams, first paragraph. Most recently updated on May 25, 2018.
- Tammy L. Kemodle, "Ch. 5: How Do You Keep the Music Playing?," in Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2020), 81.
- As claimed in the Encyclopedia Brittanica: Mary Lou Williams, second paragraph:
“In 1927, when her husband, saxophonist and bandleader John Williams, moved to Oklahoma to join the popular Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy, Mary Lou Williams took over the leadership of his band. She began a successful arranging career in 1929, when she moved to Oklahoma to join her husband with Kirk. During her time with Kirk, the band became well known for her stunning solo piano and highly original arrangements, including “Froggy Bottom,” “Walkin’ and Swingin’,” “Little Joe from Chicago,” “Roll ’Em,” and “Mary’s Idea.” She is widely credited as a major influence for the Kansas City–Southwest Big Band sound that Twelve Clouds of Joy helped to popularize.” (bold not in original)
- Barry Kernfeld (editor), "Mary Lou Williams," The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz.
- Encyclopedia Brittanica: Mary Lou Williams, fourth paragraph.
- Alexa Peters, "10 Women Instrumentalists Who Redefine Jazz," Paste magazine, December 1, 2016.
- "Mary Lou Williams," February 23, 2016, TurtleLearning Blog, 8th paragraph. Accessed September 15, 2019.
- Williams performed the full piece for the first time at Saint Francis Xavier Church (located at 46 West 16th Street near 6th Avenue in New York) November, 1962, and she recorded it in October 1963.
- “Tammy L. Kernodle provides a second reason for William's exclusion from most jazz historical narratives: her piano style, composing style, and arranging style defied categorization. Williams mastered each new style from the 1930s into the 1970s, and her arrangements similarly evolved with the passage of time.” in "Mary's Ideas: Big Band Music by Mary Lou Williams," "A Woman's Place in Narratives of Jazz," Theodore E. Buehner, Mary Lou Williams: Selected Works in Big Band, edited by Theodore E. Buehner, (Middleton, Wisconsin: A-R Editions, Inc, 2013), xiii.
- According to John S. Wilson, "Mary Lou Williams, A Jazz Great, Dies," NYTimes Obituary, May 30, 1981, 5th paragraph.
- John S. Wilson, "Mary Lou Williams, A Jazz Great, Dies," NYTimes Obituary, May 30, 1981, Section 1, 21.
- Karen Chilton, "Hazel Scott's Lifetime of High Notes," SmithsonianMag.com, October 15, 2009, quoted at Wikipedia: Hazel Scott.
- Karen Chilton, (author of Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist, from Café Society to Hollywood to HUAC), "Hazel Scott’s Lifetime of High Notes," SmithsonianMag.com, October 15, 2009. Accessed May 25, 2021.
- Murray Horwitz, "Review: Hazel Scott: 'Relaxed Piano Moods,' NPR (National Public Radio) Music, August 1, 2001.
- Lee Mergner, Review of Karen Chilton's Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist, from Café Society to Hollywood to HUAC, in Jazz Times, reposted entirely at Feel the Blues with all that jazz.
- Hipp's biographer, Katja von Schuttenbach, tells JazzWax's Marc Myers that Hipp worked in jazz until around 1960 at "Jutta Hipp: The Inside Story."
- "Jutta Hipp: The Inside Story," JazzWax by Marc Myers, May 28, 2013.
- Marc Myers, "Jutta Hipp in Germany: 1952–55," JazzWax.com, May 22, 2013.
- "Unsung Women of Jazz # 5 – Jutta Hipp, Curt's Jazz Cafe.
- Carolyn Glenn Brewer, Changing The Tune: The Kansas City Women's Jazz Festival 1978–1985 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 9–10.
- Carolyn Glenn Brewer, Changing The Tune: The Kansas City Women's Jazz Festival 1978–1985 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 10.
- Carolyn Glenn Brewer, Changing The Tune: The Kansas City Women's Jazz Festival 1978–1985 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 12.
- Carolyn Glenn Brewer, Changing The Tune: The Kansas City Women's Jazz Festival 1978–1985 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 12.
- Carolyn Glenn Brewer, Changing The Tune: The Kansas City Women's Jazz Festival 1978–1985 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 12–13.
- Cecilia Björck, Åsa Bergman "Making Women in Jazz Visible: Negotiating Discourses of Unity and Diversity in Sweden and the US," IASPM Journal, Vol 8, No 1 (2018).
- Sherrie Tucker, Blurb for Swing Shift "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2000).