Sp7. Women and Jazz
- 1 Discussion
- 2 Quotations
- 3 Introduction
- 4 Jazz women 1910-1920s America
- 5 Jazz women in 1930's America
- 6 Jazz women in 1940's America
- 7 Jazz women in 1950's America
- 8 Jazz women in 1960's America
- 9 Jazz women in 1970's America
- 10 Jazz women in 1980's America
- 11 Jazz women in 1990's America
- 12 Jazz women in 20th century
- 13 Jazz women in 21st Century
- 14 Musician's Biography Websites
- 15 Internet & Bibliographic Resources on Women in Jazz
- 16 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)
Colorized group shot for Director Judy Chaikin's documentary "The Girls in the Band" (picture modeled after Art Kane's Esquire magazine (now colorized) photograph "A Great Day in Harlem" taken in 1958).
Original black and white 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.
Established jazz author Ted Gioia (b. 1957) in his third edition of The History of Jazz (2021) points out how women instrumentalists have often struggled to make it in an overly patriarchal jazz community.
“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)
learned three tunes as a pupil of Jelly Roll Morton (1890–1941) 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)
became King Oliver’s (1881–1938) pianist after Lil Hardin (1898–1971) left the band returning to Chicago about the time that the Pergola Dancing Pavilion at 949 Market Street closed in San Francisco in October 1921. Gonsoulin stayed with them when they arrived at the Royal Gardens in Chicago in 1922.
For a few months, Joseph "King" Oliver (1885–1938), Ed Garland (1895–1980), Johnny (1892–1940) and Warren "Baby" Dodds (1898–1959), Edward "'Kid" Ory (1886–1983), 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.
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.
One afternoon in May 1943 at a rehearsal in the San Francisco home of Bertha Gonsoulin, Bunk Johnson (1879–1949) 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.Reviewer Scott Yanow (b. 1954) informs us that Gonsoulin played two good numbers on Bunk Johnson's album titled "Bunk Johnson in San Francisco."
“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)
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:
Dr. Sherrie Tucker (University of Kansas) reports on Gonsoulin's jazz career in her well-researched article "A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazz Women," a project for the NOJNHP (New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park) Research Study.
“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. (p. 265)
“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 nickname was “Bob” or “Miss Bob.” (p. 266)
“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 [Louis] 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 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." (p. 267)
“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.”
“The second [chance to play with Bunk Johnson] came over twenty years later when her [Bertha Gonsoulin] 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.
“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. (p. 268)
“In San Francisco in the 1940s, the New Orleans Revival centered around Lu Watters's 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.” (p. 269)
“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 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 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. (p. 270)
“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.” (bold not in original)
- 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). For more information on these recordings, see http://www.weigts.scarlet.nl/430510.htm
- 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.
- 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).
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.
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 (1887–1918) 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 Afro-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 age of twenty-two 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)
(The Ingenues in Sydney, Australia standing in front of Metro Goldwyn Meyer's promotional vehicle for Ben Hur, 'the world's first trackless train", in 1928, photographed by Sam Hood)
(The Ingenues at the Tivoli Theatre, Sydney, Australia 🇦🇺, 1928, taken by photographer Sam Hood)
(Photograph in the public domain acknowledged by the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)
Names of The Ingenues
“Past members of The Ingenues: Genevieve Brown, Grace Brown, Ruth Carnahan, Babe Colby, Dorothy Donahoe, Juel Donahoe, Mary Donahoe, Pauline Dove, Frances Gorton, Velma Grimm, Billie Jenks, Paula Jones, Marguerite Lichti, Alice Locklin, Margaret Neal, Marie Novak, Blanche Olsen, Alyce Pleis, With Randall, Virginia Roberts, Mina Smith, Louise Sorenson, Lora Standish, Beth Vance, Lucy Westgate, Gladys Young.”
the band celebrated their versatility by having many members switch off and all play a new instrument, such as multiple saxophones 🎷 of different types, banjos 🪕, harmonicas , violins 🎻, or accordions 🪗. Click on photographs for source.
beginning in 1925 they headlined for almost ten years, performing to sold-out concert halls and theatres around the globe. With stage sets, costumes, technicians and more than 100 instruments, the group earned the nickname "The Girl Paul Whitemans of Syncopation," as seen in the colorized poster below.
the group evolved from smaller groups led by Beth Vance (born Bessie Frances Israel, 1901–1962), who had been part of several traveling orchestras since she was a teenager. By November 1925 Beth Vance's orchestra had grown to seventeen members, including veterans of other all-girl bands, and was renamed The Ingenues.
Around 1927 the Ingenues grew with former members of Harry Waiman's Debutantes and Bobbie Grice's Parisian Redheads. Vaudeville tours took the Ingenues to dozens of theatres from coast to coast, both in the U.S. and Canada.
“According to Marie Novak, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (1867–1932) attended their show three times that first week and prevailed upon them to appear for four weeks with a further offer of a year's contract in his upcoming Ziegfeld Follies of 1927. Previewing in Boston on August 1, 1927, the 21st Ziegfeld Follies titled "Glorifying the American Girl," had all new songs by Irving Berlin with sets by Joseph Urban, dances by Sammy Lee, costumes by John W. Harkrider, ballets by Albertina Rasch, and the stars Eddie Cantor, Ruth Etting, Cliff Edwards and Claire Luce. The show opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on August 6, 1927, and The Ingenues were featured in opulent numbers, including Irving Berlin's "Shaking the Blues Away" (later made into a musical comedy film of the same name) with the "Banjo Ingenues" (click to see and hear them perform), and the sensational "Melody Land" first act finale that featured the entire Ingenues Orchestra along with two-piano team Edgar Fairchild (1898–1975) (real name: Milton Susskind) & Ralph Rainger (1901–1942), the Albertina Rasch Girls, and twelve female pianists on all-white baby grand pianos.” (bold not in original)
by mid-1928 the band started a two year world tour, including engagements at Los Angeles Metropolitan Theatre. While in Los Angeles Warner Brothers made two nine-minute shorts for Vitaphone: "The Band Beautiful" (1928) and "The Syncopating Sweeties" (1928), released nationwide starting in the summer and being some of the earliest sound pictures. For "The Band Beautiful," they play these tunes: 1. "Keep Sweeping The Cobwebs Off The Moon," 2. "Changes," 3. "Shaking The Blues Away," and 4. "Tiger Rag."
headlined in Honolulu, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth (July 1928 to January 1929), Bombay, Cairo, Paris, Monte Carlo, Berlin, Hamburg, London, Tunis, Rome, (1929), Johannesburg, Sao Paulo & Buenos Ares (June to September 1929).
recorded for Columbia Records in Brazil making their only commercial recordings released on the Columbia label in Brazil and never available in the U.S. Some recordings were possibly done on the stage of Teatros Santana in São Paulo.
orchestra electrician, Ray Fabing (1896–1975), married to Ingenue member Alyce Pleis (1908–1990), directed a few engagements in the mid-west in mid-1936 as "Ray Fabing's Hollywood Ingenues." Using many new members, they were featured in a musical film short titled "Maids & Music" (1937) with Ray Fabing playing a band leader.
one of the last engagements of the band was at a Mount Morris High School in Freeport, Illinois. In 1937, for a short while The Ingenues were directed by Count Berni-Vici, who had produced an all-women vaudeville orchestra in the late 1920s.
often billed as “The Band Beautiful,” hence the name of this 1928 Vitaphone short. (Click on it to see and hear it.)
See and hear them perform a complex novelty number at Youtube.com with annotations.
Read about them in Kristin McGee's "The Feminization of Mass Culture and the Novelty of All-Girl Bands: The Case of the Ingenues," Popular Music and Society Vol. 31, No. 5, December 2008, 629–662.
Read the assessment of London drummer and percussionist Nicholas D. Ball, who specializes in 1910s–1920s drumming, that Pauline Dove, The Ingenues's drummer, was perhaps the best female jazz drummer and percussionist in the 1920s.
🔸 Metro-Gnomes, a small band fronted by Jack Hylton's then-wife Ennis Parkes.
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“Other all-girl bands popular in the 1920s and '30s included Edna White's Trombone Quartet, Bobbie Grice's Fourteen Bricktops, Bobbie Howell's American Syncopators, The Dixie Sweethearts, The Darlings of Rhythm (with tenor saxophone player Margaret Backstrom and alto saxophone player Josephine Boyd), Eddie Durham's All-Star Girl Orchestra, The Parisian Redheads (from Paris, Indiana), and The Twelve Vampires. The best-known and most successful girl band of the '20s was Babe Egan and Her Hollywood Redheads. (bold not in original)
A new crop of all-girl orchestras popped up in the 1930s that included Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears, Phil Spitalny's and His Musical Queens, and Dona Drake and Her Orchestra. Conversely, another band was Ramona and Her Men of Music. The new female bands were conventional bands playing popular songs for dancing, with the leader acting as the glamorous and sexy center of attention.
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)
(Main background photo by Ron Reiring taken at Mono Lake August 27, 2014. Purple/pink sky inserted from photo taken by Sue B (firago on Flickr) and shared with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Science in Action Flickr Group, uploaded on February 18, 2015, with fireworks, musical instruments and PoJ.fm logos added)
grew up playing in a jazz band with her seven sisters, the Schmitz Sisters Orchestra, conceived of by her entrepreneurial father, and the orchestra performed at state fairs and toured the vaudeville circuit. 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.
first professional female jazz drummer.
wrote an editorial during World War II in DownBeat magazine titled “Give Girl Musicians a Break!.”advocating for big bands to hire female musicians in place of the male ones who had been drafted She urged orchestras to hire talented female musicians who could fill in during the war effort. “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 not being able to play legitimately is a worn-out myth now.”
See and hear her play a drum solo and perform with the orchestra on the video Frances Carroll and her Coquettes.
Read a 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.
propulsive drummer Pauline Braddy (1922–1996) billed as “Queen of the Drums”
Jazz women in 1940's America
Sarah Vaughn (1924–1990)
“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
bandleader was Anna Mae Winburn (1913–1999)
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)
her mother Alma in 1948 set her daughter, aged eight, up for an audition at the Juilliard School where the minimum age of admission was sixteen, but Alma insisted they let Hazel audition. After playing a virtuosic Rachmaninov Prelude one of her judges labelled her a ‘genius,’ and she was granted a scholarship.
headlined at New York’s Café Society because her contemporary and friend, Billie Holiday (1915–1959), recommended her to one of the first clubs that didn’t segregate black and white audience members.
she was the first black American to host her own 15 minute television show on three times a week.
"Relaxed Piano Moods" was inducted into the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library in 2001. The album was recorded in 1955 for Debut Records with Scott accompanied by the label's two owners and Hall of Fame musicians drummer Max Roach (1924–2007) and bassist Charles Mingus (1922–1997). “The album is now considered by jazz critics and aficionados as one of the most important jazz recordings of the twentieth century.”
had it written into her film contracts that she would only play herself and not any demeaning, subservient roles as was typical of the time for Afro-Caribbean actresses in Hollywood who were only cast as prostitutes, slaves, or maids.
while on the set of "The Heat’s On" (1943), she noticed that for a scene in which wives were waving their husbands off to war, the black actresses had been dressed in grubby aprons. Hazel kicked up a fuss, left the film and wouldn’t come back until the costumes were changed. After three days, the director gave in, and Hazel returned. The aprons were replaced by floral dresses.
she had prodigious piano technique.
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.
Listen to Hazel Scott on NPR's "Piano Jazz" with Marian McPartland playing and singing in 1980.
View the official website of Hazel Scott
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 her 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)
Margrethe Blossom Dearie (1924–2009)
Leonard Feather (1914–1994) described her as “chic, sleek and squeaky clean, a voice in a million” and while she was clearly classified as a jazz vocalist, she found that description incomplete and thought of herself as “a songwriter’s singer of all the great Broadway and Hollywood tunes that were in her repertoire, along with contemporary people like Dave Frishberg.”
studied classical music as a child, switched to jazz as a teenager and played with her high school dance band.
moved to New York in the 1940s and was hired by Woody Herman (1913–1987) to sing with his Blue Flames, a vocal group within his big band. Later she worked in a similar fashion with Alvino Rey’s (1908–2004) singing group, the Blue Reys.
In the early 1950s, moved to Paris and formed an eight-member vocal group, Les Blue Stars, that worked from 1952 to 1955, and had a hit in Paris and the United States with a French version of “Lullaby of Birdland.” Dearie arranged and conducted several of the group’s popular tunes.
While in Paris, worked with singer Annie Ross (1930–2020) and later signed with Verve Records by producer Norman Granz (1918–2001) where she made six solo albums, including the acclaimed “My Gentleman Friend” recorded in 1959, but not released until 1961.
released her debut album "Blossom Dearie" (Verve 1957).
in 1973 she started her own record company, Daffodil Records , where she was the only artist, and one of her early albums, “My New Celebrity Is You,” included eight of her own compositions. The album’s title number was written by her good friend Johnny Mercer (1909–1976).
Read her obituary by Jon Thurber, "Blossom Dearie dies at 82; jazz and cabaret singer," Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2009.
Jazz women in 1960's America
Brackeen was a child prodigy who at age 11, learned to play the piano in six months by transcribing eight Frankie Carle (1903–2001) solos. By 12, she was already performing professionally.
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 which at various times 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.
has recorded more than two dozen recordings as a leader, including one-hundred of her three-hundred original compositions. She appears on nearly one-hundred additional recordings with other musicians.
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 forty-six 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.
Jazz women in 1970's America
Ahnee Sharon Freeman
Ahnee Sharon Freeman (b. 1958)
Hear her interviewed and playing piano on Marian McPartland's "Piano Jazz" broadcast in the Spring of 1988.
Jessica (Jennifer) Williams
(Photo by Jimmy and Deana Katz/courtesy of Jessica Williams)
Jessica (Jennifer) Williams (1948–March 12, 2022)
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 where she studied classical music and ear training with Richard Aitken and George Bellows.
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.
recorded her debut album, "The Portal of Antrim" (Adelphi Records 1976), with a trio of bassist and drummer, where she played acoustic piano, PMI and Rhodes Fender electric piano, synthesizer, key-bass, drums, and even bells! (See the composite immediately following for album details and a review by Scott Yanow.)
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 (1934–1996), Tony Williams (1945–1997), Stan Getz (1927–1991), Bobby Hutcherson (1941–2016), and Charlie Haden (1937–2014), 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 (1928–1999) and drummer Mel Brown (b. 1944).
Recorded excellent tribute albums for Thelonious Monk "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.
On NPR Piano Jazz she told interviewer Marian McPartland (1918–2013) that her main influences were not pianists, but horn players, most notably Miles Davis and John Coltrane (see her Coltrane tribute album "Freedom Trane").
Her album "Joyful Sorrow: A Tribute to Bill Evans" was among the Top 5 CDs of JazzTimes Critics Poll in 1999.
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: A Solo Tribute to Bill Evans").
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.
had a spinal fusion with internal instrumentation in 2012 at Swedish Hospital's Neurosurgery Unit in Seattle, WA, and subsequently lost her ability to perform, although she continued to make electronic music since then.
Listen to her beautiful rendition of "Blue Tuesday."
Listen to her play "Empathy."
Listen to "Love and Hate" (2006).
Read her tribute obituary "Remembering Jazz Pianist Jessica Williams" by Ted Gioia.
Read Robin Lloyd's obituary "Pianist Jessica Williams has died," KNKX Public Radio, March 17, 2022.
Read Avery Jeffry's obituary "Remembering Sacramento jazz pianist Jessica Williams," CapRadio, March 17, 2022.
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).
awarded the "African-American Classical Music Award" from the Women of the New Jersey Chapter of Spelman College (2008).
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)
released three albums in 2007 including the first of three best-selling "Live at the Jazz Standard" (Max Jazz 2007) volumes with her trio of bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Jones. The second volume spent twelve weeks on the jazz charts. Later, "Travelin' Light" (2012).
on her debut for High Note paid tribute to pianist/vocalist Shirley Horn with "We Won't Forget You: An Homage to Shirley Horn," (High Note 2014) using an all-star horn section with her trio making many critics' best of the year year lists.
frequently leads jazz clinics and workshops at prestigious summer schools and jazz festivals, including the Stanford Jazz Workshop, Centrum-Port Townsend Jazz, the Dave Brubeck Institute in Oakland, CA, The Jazz School in Berkeley, CA, Taller de Musics in Barcelona-Spain, the JEN, The Litchfield Summer Jazz Camp, Jazz Camp West, and The Royal Conservatory of Music in Den Haag.
Dena DeRose (on left) and Champian Fulton (on right) for the Steinway Two Piano Festival, Pizza Express on Dean Street, London, England, St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2022 in their first ever concert as a duo.
(Phone snap by Sebastian Scotney)
Jazz women in 1990's America
Lena Bloch (b. 1962)
““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.” (click on the quotation for source)
Born in Moscow, Russia 🇷🇺 in 1962, 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.
she has studied with multi-instrumentalist (tenor saxophone, flute, oboe, bassoon, bamboo flute, shehnai, shofar, arghul, koto, piano, vocals) Yusef Lateef (1920–2013) in Massachusetts, Kaveh Dalir-Azar from Iran 🇮🇷 while in Germany 🇩🇪, tenor and alto saxophonist and flutist Dave Liebman (b. 1946) in his European workshops, bassist Dave Holland (b. 1946) and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano (b. 1952) in Banff, Canada 🇨🇦, and, most notably, with alto saxophonist Lee Konitz (1927–2020), whom she had met in 2001 in Cologne, Germany.
acquired her Artist Diploma cum laude from Cologne Conservatory, Germany (1999) studying with American jazz artists drummer Keith Copeland (1946–2015) and percussionist John Marshall (b. 1954), who performed in her quartet.
In Europe, she performed with pianist Mal Waldron (1925–2002), tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin (1928–2008), pianist Horace Parlan (1931–2017), drummer Alvin Queen (b. 1950), and pianist Juraj Stanik (b. 1969).
received a full scholarship for Jazz In July workshop in 1994 and studied with multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef (1920–2013) and pianist Dr. Billy Taylor (1921–2010), winning the “Outstanding Performance Award.”
granted a full scholarship to attend Banff International Workshop in Jazz & Creative Music in Banff, Canada 🇨🇦 (1999), and studied with Joe Lovano (b. 1952), pianist Kenny Werner (b. 1951) and bassist Dave Holland (b. 1946).
received her Master’s of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Composition from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (2006), studying under American composer of contemporary classical music Salvatore Macchia (b. 1947) and keyboardist Jeffrey W. Holmes and played the first tenor chair in the Jazz Ensemble. She won the MENC Award (2004) in Minneapolis and later the “Downbeat Student Award” (2005).
moving to United States in early 2000s she 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.
went to graduate school in 2003 and earned a Master’s Degree in Composition while a teaching assistantship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she studied with Salvatore Macchia and Jeff Holmes.
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.
featured in the “Four Extraordinary Women In Jazz” workshop/performance (with Connie Crothers) and in the Lester Young 100’s Birthday Concert in 2009 with Ted Brown and Chris Byars at Smalls Jazz Club.
During her first years in Brooklyn Lena was featured in the “Four Extraordinary Women In Jazz” workshop/performance (with Connie Crothers) and in the Lester Young 100’s Birthday Concert (with Ted Brown and Chris Byars, Smalls Jazz Club).
In 2016, she met the nucleus of her recent quartet: bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Billy Mintz, Joining these colleagues for her first album as leader was Chicago guitarist Dave Miller. 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 voted 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).
in 2014, pianist and composer Russ Lossing joined the Lena Bloch Quartet, called Feathery, has been performing regularly in New York City and Brooklyn concert spaces and jazz clubs. They released the album “Heart Knows” in 2017 (Fresh Sound Records) and were selected to perform it for the 40th National Chamber Music Conference in NYC in 2018.
currently a faculty member at Slope Music, in Brooklyn, New York.
(Lena Bloch playing her saxophone at Slope Music accompanied by pianist Charles Sibirsky,
the owner and founder, in 2018. Click on picture for source.)
has performed in New York City at Birdland, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Smalls Jazz Club, St. Peter Church Jazz Ministry, St. Marks Church, Sofia’s, Fat Cat, Puppets, 5C, and The Old Stone House Brooklyn to name a few.
has played with the “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, Brad Linde Ensemble, Lester Young Birthday Tribute and Jimmy Giuffre/Gerry Mulligan projects.
released her debut album “Feathery” (Thirteenth Note Records 2014) with guitarist Dave Miller, and long-time rhythm section of bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Billy Mintz. The album 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 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).
(Detail of photograph of Lena Bloch with her band Feathery
at The Falcon, Marlboro, New York, March 8, 2020.
Click on photograph for source)
Selected jazz festivals:
Roberta Gambarini (b. 1972)
beginning In 1998 she moved to the United States with a scholarship from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
studied vocal technique, among others, with Michiko Hirayama (1923–2018), whose very particular vocality incorporates many techniques of the Japanese and Eastern tradition in general, combining them with Western traditions, including that of Gregorian chants. Gambarini reports that “From Michiko Hirayama I learned a lot, especially regarding aspects of vocal work that relate to energy and deep spirituality. And the absolute value of ‘expressiveness,’ combined with rigor and discipline.”
“If there’s any lingering doubt that Roberta Gambarini has, with remarkable alacrity, joined the upper echelon of jazz singers, "So in Love" should erase it.”
participated in two editions of the Pozzuoli Jazz Festival in 2013 and 2014 in Italy.
has performed with Dave Brubeck, Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Slide Hampton, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Hank Jones, Frank Wess, Claudio Roditi, Mulgrew Miller, Christian McBride, Toots Thielemans, Chucho Valdés, Horacio "El Negro" Hernández, and Paquito D'Rivera as well as playing at Carnegie Hall, the 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.
As guest vocalist:
Listen to her singing and being interviewed by guest host Jon Weber (b. 1961) at "Roberta Gambarini On Piano Jazz," NPR.org, originally recorded January 13, 2011 and originally broadcast March 29, 2011.
See and listen to her fabulous scatting with trumpeter Roy Hargrove who scats with her and plays his trumpet supported by the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band led by Slide Hampton (1932–2021) in South Orange, N.J., October 2008.
(The International Space Station and Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft were making their relative approaches on December 21 (year unknown).
Original photograph from NASA. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel with PoJ.fm logos added in between.
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 student, she graduated from high school at the age of fifteen. By age eighteen, 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)
named a “true visionary” by pianist and The Kennedy Center’s artistic director Jason Moran (b. 1975).
her composition "Vogelfrei" was nominated “one of the best 25 Classical tracks of 2018” by the New York Times.
has performed with Muhal Richard Abrams, Jason Moran, Nels Cline, Zeena Parkins, Tim Berne, Dave Douglas, Wet Ink, Kris Davis and Tyshawn Sorey in the collaborative trio Paradoxical Frog, Mary Halvorson in Mary’s septet, Tom Rainey, her husband, in numerous settings, and Anthony Braxton, as a member of multiple groups including his Falling River Musics Quartet.
received composing commissions by BBC Glasgow Symphony orchestra, Bang on The Can, Grossman Ensemble, The Shifting Foundation, The Robert D. Bielecki Foundation, The Jerwood Foundation, American Composers Orchestra, Tricentric Foundation, SWR New Jazz Meeting, The Jazz Gallery Commissioning Series, NYSCA, Wet Ink, John Zorn’s Stone Commissioning Series and the EOS Orchestra.
Read about the brass-laden eponymous debut album "Ubatuba" (Firehouse 12, 2015)
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)
Esperanza Spalding (b. 1984)
recorded "Esperanza" (2008) “where the track “Precious” opens with a killer hook of wordless soul-harmonizing worthy of Stevie Wonder, followed by a grooving ballad over a hip bass line and brilliant set of harmonies. Also, “I Know You Know” is a tricky jazz line that manages also to be a hip-shaker.
(Black and white photo from The New York Times with colorized version on right)
attended several prestigious jazz schools: the Royal Academy of Music, in London England (the oldest conservatoire in the UK, founded in 1822), the Berklee College of Music (a private music college in Boston, Massachusetts and the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world especially known for the study of jazz and modern American music), and the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (a music and dance conservatoire based in London, England formed in 2005 as a merger of the two older institutions Trinity College of Music and Laban Dance Centre), earning a bachelor’s degree and awarded “a jazz instrumentalist with distinction.”
has toured extensively internationally, playing venues and festivals across Latin America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and the United States.
has a hit radio residency on NTS and also performs live sets throughout Europe.
Read Abe Beeson, "The New Cool: Nubya Garcia puts the jazz back in modern jazz," KNKX Public Radio, published September 3, 2020. Accessed January 5, 2020.
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.
Musician's Biography Websites
Check out their websitesClick on picture or lighter blue hyperlinks for more information
Name & Dates
Roles and Years Active
American 🇺🇸 jazz pianist and composer
Canadian 🇨🇦 jazz pianist, composer and arranger
American 🇺🇸 jazz singer and pianist
(taught at Berklee College of Music 2005–2009), and winner of the Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition (2009).
English 🇬🇧 singer, trumpet player, and composer
“She plays swinging jazz trumpet, with excellent technique and a remarkable command of a variety of styles. She sings with a musician's phrasing and her songs come with proper tunes and grown-up harmonies attached—a rarity in itself.” — The Guardian
See her albums
"Rising Star" on the guitar in DownBeat's Critic's Poll for the inclusive years 2013–2019
American 🇺🇸 jazz drummer and educator
New Zealand 🇳🇿 (lived in Australia 🇦🇺 since 1960) pianist, composer, soloist, bandleader, arranger, and educator at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Read Eric Meyer's Review of "Another Journey: Music for Symphony and Jazz Orchestras" by Judy Bailey. Live recordings."
An innovative bandleader and soloist, as well as a prolific recording artist in ensembles ranging from duos to big bands on over 100 CDs as leader or co-leader.
Read a review of "Habana's Dream."
Internet & Bibliographic Resources on Women in Jazz
NOTE: The information below varies in formatting and does not usually conform to standard bibliographic formatting for ease of reading.
Laurie Frink (1951–2013) American jazz trumpeter, jazz educator, and counselor.
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 (1999) 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.”
See and hear Ivy Benson and her all-girl band performing "Lover" written by Rodgers & Hart and recorded in Europe in 1949. Ivy Benson (1913-1993) was an English musician and bandleader leading an all-female swing band that rose to fame in the 1940s and often headlined at variety theatres and topping the bill at the London Palladium. They became the BBC's resident house band.
- “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.
Read Kara A. Attrep's review of Big Ears.
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.
- 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. 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.
- Warren Dodds, Baby Dodds' Story, 34–35. Also, Gene H. Anderson, "The Genesis of King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band," American Music 12, no. 3 (Fall 1994): 295. doi:10.2307/ 3052275.
- Oakland Sunshine, February 25, 1922.
- 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.
- Dr. Sherrie Tucker, "A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazz Women," a project for the NOJNHP Research Study, September 30, 2004, in Partial Fulfillment of #P5705010381, submitted to New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.
- 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.
- "Overlooked No More: Valaida Snow, Charismatic 'Queen of the Trumpet'," New York Times, February 22, 2012.
- "Overlooked No More: Valaida Snow, Charismatic 'Queen of the Trumpet'," New York Times, February 22, 2012.
- Wikipedia: The Ingenues.
- Past members of The Ingenues listed at Wikipedia: The Ingenues.
- Read the annotations in this video for proof: "The Ingenues: The Band Beautiful."
- Biography of The Ingenues written by email@example.com, IMDb Mini Biography: The Ingenues, fifth paragraph.
- Jeannie G. Pool (b. 1951), Ch. 2: "The Melody Girls," Peggy Gilbert and Her All-Girl Band (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2018), 15.
- 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.
- Stephen Holden, "Blossom Dearie, Cult Chanteuse, Dies at 84," New York Times, February 8, 2009.
- Whitney Balliett, "Hanging Out with Blossom Dearie," Profiles, May 26, 1973, 46. Interview occurred May 18, 1973.
- Raymond Fol, click on "more images" (lower left hand corner) at the discogs.com website of Blossom-Dearie-Les-Blue-Stars-The-Pianist, then move over to the tenth image for the source of the quotation from Raymond Fol in France's Jazz Magazine.
- Natalie Weiner, "Blossom Dearie Was ‘The Only White Woman Who Had Soul’," liner notes for new reissue of Dearie's debut LP "Blossom Dearie" ( Verve 1957), December 27, 2018.
- Jon Thurber, "Blohttp://philosophyofjazz.net/wiki/Advanced_Editing#ALL-TIME_TOP-20_Best_Colorsssom Dearie dies at 82; jazz and cabaret singer," Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2009. She was actual 84 when she died having been born April 28, 1924.
- Richard Havers, Remembering "Blossom Dearie: A Small Voice With A Mighty Impact," UDiscoverMusic.com, published April 28, 2021.
- "Jessica Williams," PeoplePill.com. Accessed April 10, 2022.
- "Roberta Gambarini On Piano Jazz," NPR.org, originally recorded January 13, 2011, originally broadcast March 29, 2011.
- Claudia Erba, "Roberta Gambarini, Incontro con la Voce Easy to love," La Redazione, November 3, 2015.
- Christopher Loudon, "Roberta Gambarini: 'So In Love,' JazzTimes.com, updated April 25, 2019.
- 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.
- Intakt Records blurb.
- ESPERANZA SPALDING: EMILY’S D+EVOLUTION “The jazz singer and bassist—and former Grammy "Best New Artist"—has created a beyond category masterpiece that sounds better than if Joni Mitchell hired Living Colour as her band and then grafted it all onto a hip-hop sensibility of sorts.” Will Layman, March 11, 2016. "Esperanza Spalding: 'Emily's D+Evolution'," PopMatters.com, March 11, 2016. Accessed January 9, 2022.
- "Nubya Garcia," Official Montreux Jazz Festival Website — 2022 © Fondation du Festival de Jazz de Montreux. Accessed January 7, 2022.
- Melissa Aldana's biography, last four paragraphs.
- 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).
- Publisher's blurb for Sax Appeal.
- Sherrie Tucker, Blurb for Swing Shift "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2000).