All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Book Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

6

Giving Birth to Sound: Women in Creative Music

Jakob Baekgaard By

Sign in to view read count
Giving Birth to Sound: Women in Creative Music
Renate Da Rin (ed.) and William Parker (coed.)
294 Pages
ISBN: 978-3-00-049279-2
Buddy's Knife
2015

Every time a book about music is written, the history of music is also rewritten and musicians are included or left out, and old and new myths rejected or confirmed. This is something that many authors are conscious about, but seldom an issue that is addressed. Therefore, it is refreshing when a book like Giving Birth to Sound: Women in Creative Music pops up. It is a text that is conscious about putting a spotlight on women in creative music, since there is tendency to focus less on women and more on men when the history of music is told. The sleeve of the book humorously points this out, saying the book is about her-story, as opposed to his-story.

There are many good people behind the book, but the diverse musical threads are gathered by the editors; journalist and publisher, Renate Da Rin, and bassist, composer and philosopher, William Parker. Together they have invited an overwhelming number of female musicians, forty-eight in all, who tell about the creative process, spirituality and the role of gender in music. Each interview is composed as the thoughtful and free-flowing individual answers to a fixed list of questions, including questions like: "What is your process and system of putting music together?," "what were your personal breakthroughs in music and in life?" and "does your music have political or spiritual undertones?"

The list of fixed questions is both a strength and a weakness. A strength because the questions are considered and engaging and produce many deep insights, a weakness because they produce a somewhat recognizable pattern that is experienced as perhaps a bit mechanic if too many interviews are read in a row. However, the solution is quite simple: preferably, the book should not be read in one sitting, but instead be digested in delicate pieces where the singularity of each artist comes to the fore. The interview form works well, but not as a long narrative and it is refreshing when flutist Nicole Mitchell breaks the rules and writes a poetic essay without specific answers to the questions and when vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu starts with a poetic tale before she answers the questions.

These technicalities aside, there should be no doubt that Giving Birth to Sound: Women in Creative Music is a beautiful and necessary book that is filled with wisdom about music and life. The reader is encouraged to seek out the music of these strong individuals who work in many different genres. However, there is a bias towards improvised music. The list of musicians is long and there will be names that will be familiar to the dedicated listener, for instance, many followers of the ECM-label will know the pianist Marilyn Crispell, but there will also be many new musical discoveries. It is a generous and life-affirming book, a joyful and intellectually rewarding rewriting of history into herstory and like all the other jazz books on the excellent imprint Buddy's Knife, it is a true labor of love.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin Book Reviews
Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 22, 2018
Read What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean?: The Moby Grape Story Book Reviews
What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean?: The...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2018
Read Jorma Kaukonen: Been So Long - My Life & Music Book Reviews
Jorma Kaukonen: Been So Long - My Life & Music
by Doug Collette
Published: August 25, 2018
Read Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon Book Reviews
Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Blues From the Bayou: The Rhythms of Baton Rouge by Julian C. Piper Book Reviews
Blues From the Bayou: The Rhythms of Baton Rouge by Julian...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 20, 2018
Read Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans, 3rd Edition Book Reviews
Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans, 3rd Edition
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 18, 2018
Read "What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean?: The Moby Grape Story" Book Reviews What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean?: The...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2018
Read "Softly, With Feeling" Book Reviews Softly, With Feeling
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: October 24, 2017
Read "All That's Jazz" Book Reviews All That's Jazz
by Phil Barnes
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer" Book Reviews Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer
by David A. Orthmann
Published: June 3, 2018