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Joanne Brackeen: Phenomenal Capacity

By Published: January 20, 2010

AAJ: Did you find much resistance?

JB: No, nobody said anything. I didn't even know. I moved to New York, I worked. I worked with Joe Henderson, Stan Getz, Art Blakey and one day after that they called me for the first Women In Jazz concert and that was when I began to feel they had this thing that the women weren't getting enough...whatever. But it is true that if you are a woman and you play, you better play really, really well.

AAJ: So you are one of the first females to get out there and show that it wasn't that big a deal.

JB: I didn't try to do that. I had no idea that anything was going on, but if you look at—let's see—Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams
1910 - 1981
did some, but not as much. Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
1918 - 2013
did some, but she always wanted to work with a lot of people like I did, as she mentioned to me once. And Dorothy Donegan
Dorothy Donegan
Dorothy Donegan
1924 - 1998
was an excellent pianist, but I think at their time, that didn't happen. It just happened that at my time I was there.

AAJ: Do the female students at Berklee approach you differently than the male students?

JB: Not anymore. When I first taught up there, there was never a woman as strong as a guy in a class or in all of my students. Now there is absolutely no difference. The best student in a class is just as likely to be a woman as a guy. So it's pretty amazing.

AAJ: And how did you first become enamored with Brazilian music?

JB: I always was, from first hearing. I did go to Cuba and also Brazil with Stan Getz, so that was the first meeting, which I never forgot.

AAJ: What are some things that you haven't done that you think you might like to do.

JB: Well I did study at Berklee, for a couple of months, big band arranging. I'm half way through one of my compositions for big band and I think that that would be fun. At least a couple of my tunes would be great that way. Other people have arranged them and of course I've performed big band arrangements of my tunes, but always somebody else arranged them. But I really like the sound of an orchestra; I would like my music played orchestral. That would be great.

Selected Discography

Joanne Brackeen, Pink Elephant Magic (Arkadia Jazz, 1998)

Joanne Brackeen, Power Talk (Turnipseed Music, 1994)

Joanne Brackeen, Fi-Fi Goes to Heaven (Concord, 1986)

Joanne Brackeen, Ancient Dynasty (Tappan Zee-Columbia, 1980)

Joanne Brackeen, Mythical Magic (MPS-Pausa, 1978)

Joanne Brackeen, Snooze (Six Ate) (Choice-Candid, 1975)

Photo Credit

Ed Berger

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