Charts of Elegance
Daily articles carefully curated by the All About Jazz staff. Read our popular and future articles.
When the subjects of jazz and jazz history are
discussed, the focus is often on the contributions of
male artists. This column is a celebration of the female
voice, both vocal and instrumental, who have
contributed to jazz historically as well as
Born in 1928, Elvira Louise Redd Vi Redd grew up in a household full of music and was influenced greatly by her father, jazz musician Alton Redd. She picked up the saxophone at age 12 and began performing professionally at the age of 20. At 34, she became the first female instrumentalist to headline at a jazz festival. In spite of the fact that Vi became an accomplished saxophonist who performed with well-known artists such as Count Basie, ...
It is fitting that after a month dedicated to Jazz Appreciation, we come to the work of Nina Simone. Arguably one of the most talented jazz artists, Nina garners high praise across many demographics. What made her such an influential musician and vocalist? Her voice was deep with a richness and emotive intensity that made her singing unforgettable. She played and sang with an intensity that was and is unmatched. There was an explosiveness of emotion that was ...
Born in 1926 in Kansas City, Missouri, Melba Liston had an early interest in music. She saw a trombone when she was young and was taken by its beauty. Her family encouraged her interest in music and in learning to play the trombone. When her family moved to Los Angeles, she began to study music formally. This training would strongly inform her career, from instrumental performance to musical composition and arrangement. Melba had a remarkable career for multiple ...
Beryl Booker was a highly respected and successful jazz musician, and she was outstanding in many progressive ways throughout her short career. Born in Philadelphia in 1922, Beryl was a largely self-taught musician and vocalist. She created a distinctive style of swing piano which was very bold and confident. Listening to her performances, one can feel the sincerity and emotion driving each piece. She had a keen sense of timing and used the shortening and lengthening of notes ...
The name Billie Holiday seems indelibly linked with jazz. Her vocal quality and style were unique and masterful, and her work helped to define the genre. Modern jazz musicians and vocalists earn their chops from refining their performance of standards and many of these were recorded and performed for the first time by Holiday. She was also a pioneer in civil rights activism through protest song performance. By her own account, she was a vocalist who needed a ...