Sp7. Women and Jazz
- 1 Discussion
- 2 Introduction
- 3 Women in Jazz in historical order
- 3.1 Jazz women 1910-1920's America
- 3.2 Jazz women in 1930's America
- 3.3 Jazz women in 1940's America
- 3.4 Jazz women in 1950's America
- 3.5 Jazz women in 1960's America
- 3.6 Jazz women in 1970's America
- 3.7 Jazz women in 1980's America
- 3.8 Jazz women in 1990's America
- 3.9 Jazz women in 20th century
- 3.10 Jazz women in 21st Century
- 4 Internet & Bibliographic Resources on Women in Jazz
- 5 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" (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.
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.
Women in Jazz in historical order
Jazz women 1910-1920's America
she 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' 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) / Mary Ellen Harrison [birth name] / (active 1914–1934)
“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.”
brought to New York by famous Broadway producer Charles Dillingham who produced over two hundred shows where she opened in his production of “Stop! Look! Listen!” playing the character of the aptly named Marion Bright.
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.
🔸 Metro-Gnomes, a small band fronted by Jack Hylton's then-wife Ennis Parkes. | 🔸 | 🔸
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 (1912-1997)
Viola Smith (1912–October 21, 2020)
first professional female jazz drummer.
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.
Jazz women in 1940's America
Melba Liston (1926–1999) (active 1944–1987)
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 (1915–1997)All-American Girl Orchestra
| Tennessee-based |
Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams (1910–1981)
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 (active 1937–1949)
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)
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.
backed Dinah Washington in 1959.
Dorothy Donegan (1922–1998) (active 1938–1998)
(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
Jutta Hipp (1925–2003) (active 1940s–1958)
as a teenager listened to and practiced jazz in Germany during the Nazi suppression of jazz in World War II.
Jazz women in 1960's America
Jazz women in 1970's America
Emily Remler (1957-1990) (active 1976–1990)
Ahnee Sharon Freeman
Ahnee Sharon Freeman (b. 1958) (active 1972–present)
Hear her interviewed and playing piano on Marian McPartland's "Piano Jazz" broadcast in the Spring of 1988.
Jazz women in 1980's America
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.
Jazz women in 1990's America
DIVA jazz orchestra
🔸 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)
German saxophonist now living in New York City since 2008.
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
Performed at the Next Generation Jazz Festival
🔸Esperanza Spalding (b. 1984) Musician, composer, educator, bandleader on double bass, bass guitar, guitar, vocals
(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"Women In Jazz Interview" by Mike Flynn at Jazzwise.com webzine, February 17, 2020.
- 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)
"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.
- “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". 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)
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.
- 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.
- Scott Yanow, "Melba Liston," AllMusic.com. Accessed May 25, 2021.
- 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.
- Marc Myers, "Jutta Hipp in Germany: 1952-'55," JazzWax.com, May 22, 2013.
- 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).