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
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