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Ladder Is High, Women Keep Climbing

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Unlike college sports, there is no Title IX program for women in jazz. Those who wish to pursue that line of endeavor have to elbow their way into what remains essentially a male-dominated profession (or art) and keep climbing the ladder one rung at a time. True, women have made notable inroads in recent years and are no longer looked upon as simply "band singers," as they once were; but their numbers remain woefully small, even though their talent on a wide range of instruments can no longer be denied. There are even all-female big bands that can hold their own in any company, the most conspicuous of which is the New York City-based ensemble DIVA, led by the excellent drummer Sherrie Maricle. On the US West Coast there is, among others, the Montclair (CA) Women's Big Band, co-led by Jean Fineberg and Ellen Seeling, which brings us to the point of this brief essay.

Not only does the Montclair WJO espouse a high standard of musicianship, it believes in sharing its expertise and artistry with the next generation, hence its involvement each year for the past four in the Jazzschool Girls' Jazz & Blues Camp for girls in grades 6-12, apparently the only summer jazz camp in the world for girls only with an all-woman faculty. The week-long camp is being held this month at the Jazzschool in Berkeley, founded in 1997 by Susan Muscarella who serves as executive director as well as president and dean of the Jazzschool Institute. The goals for the Jazz & Blues Camp are admirable: to provide a supportive atmosphere in which young female musicians can hone their musical skills; to encourage friendships among young female musicians; and to foster enhanced self-esteem and confidence. Some of these girls may be the Regina Carter
Regina Carter
Regina Carter
b.1966
violin
s, Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
b.1984
bass, acoustic
s, Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
b.1965
drums
s, Diana Krall
Diana Krall
Diana Krall
b.1964
piano
s, Claire Daly
Claire Daly
Claire Daly

sax, baritone
s, Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen
Anat Cohen

sax, tenor
s and Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider

band/orchestra
s of tomorrow. Anyone who has been lucky enough to see and / or hear today's world-class female musicians will no doubt applaud the Jazzschool's camp for introducing another generation of young women to the beauty and wonders "America's classical music."

Speaking of Women in Jazz...

A number of women placed high in the 60th annual Critics' Poll, which appears in the August issue of DownBeat magazine including Nicole Mitchell
Nicole Mitchell
Nicole Mitchell
b.1967
flute
, who won as best flutist, and Schneider, best composer, arranger and big band. Anat Cohen was named best clarinetist, placed fifth on soprano sax and fourteenth on tenor, while Jane Ira Bloom
Jane Ira Bloom
Jane Ira Bloom

sax, soprano
earned second place behind Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
b.1960
saxophone
on soprano. Spalding won a third-place vote on acoustic bass, was second behind Christian McBride
Christian McBride
Christian McBride
b.1972
bass
on electric bass, and placed third behind Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer
b.1971
piano
and Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper
b.1978
piano
as Jazz Artist of the Year. On the other hand, I've heard Spalding sing and am frankly puzzled by her third-place finish among female vocalists, trailing Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
b.1955
vocalist
and Gretchen Parlato
Gretchen Parlato
Gretchen Parlato

vocalist
but ahead of Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
b.1956
vocalist
, Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater
b.1950
vocalist
, Tierney Sutton
Tierney Sutton
Tierney Sutton
b.1963
vocalist
, Karrin Allyson
Karrin Allyson
Karrin Allyson

vocalist
, Krall, Roberta Gambarini and others. Carter earned the nod as best violinist, Ingrid Jensen
Ingrid Jensen
Ingrid Jensen
b.1966
trumpet
was in tenth place on trumpet, Mary Halvorson fourth on guitar, Jane Bunnett
Jane Bunnett
Jane Bunnett
b.1955
sax, soprano
eighth on soprano and sixth on flute, Daly fifth on baritone, Geri Allen
Geri Allen
Geri Allen
b.1957
piano
eleventh on piano, Hiromi
Hiromi
Hiromi
b.1979
piano
ninth on keyboard, Amina Claudine Myers
Amina Claudine Myers
Amina Claudine Myers
b.1942
piano
eighth, Barbara Dennerlein
Barbara Dennerlein
Barbara Dennerlein
b.1964
organ, Hammond B3
tenth and Rhoda Scott
Rhoda Scott
b.1938
organ, Hammond B3
twelfth on organ, Marilyn Mazur
Marilyn Mazur
Marilyn Mazur
b.1955
percussion
tenth on percussion. Carla Bley
Carla Bley
Carla Bley
b.1938
piano
placed twelfth among composers, fifteenth among arrangers.

Halvorson, Hiromi and Parlato were listed among the rising stars, Tineke Postma
Tineke Postma
Tineke Postma
b.1978
saxophone
likewise on soprano and alto sax, Tia Fuller
Tia Fuller
Tia Fuller

saxophone
on alto sax and flute, Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly
b.1992
sax, alto
and Sharel Cassity
Sharel Cassity
Sharel Cassity

saxophone
on alto, Cohen on tenor, Lauren Sevian
Lauren Sevian
Lauren Sevian
b.1979
sax, baritone
on baritone, Ali Ryerson
Ali Ryerson
Ali Ryerson

flute
and Holly Hoffman on flute, Helen Sung
Helen Sung
Helen Sung

piano
on piano, Hiromi on piano and keyboard, Patrice Rushen
Patrice Rushen
Patrice Rushen
b.1954
keyboard
on keyboard, Dennerlein, Myers and Rhoda Scott
Rhoda Scott
b.1938
organ, Hammond B3
on organ, Halvorson on guitar, Linda Oh
Linda Oh
Linda Oh

bass
on bass, Carla Dihlstedt, Mary Oliver and Susie Hansen on violin, Allison Miller on drums, Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee
1920 - 2002
vocalist
(cello) on miscellaneous instrument, Satoko Fujii
Satoko Fujii
Satoko Fujii
b.1958
piano
as composer, Chie Imaizumi
Chie Imaizumi

composer/conductor
as arranger. Still largely outnumbered by the men but gaining ground rapidly.

And that's it for now. Until next time, keep swingin.'..!

New and Noteworthy

1. James Morrison, Snappy Too (Morrison Records)

2. Aschaffenburger Big Band, Second Take (Main-Echo)

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