In part 1
and part 2
of the Women in Jazz
series, we looked at the historical marginalization of women in jazz from Lil Hardin Armstrong
and Blanche Calloway
in the 1920s to Tia Fuller
in 2019. Part 2 focused on several prominent pioneering artists including the all-female International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Marian McPartland
, and Melba Liston
. We also looked at the struggle for gender equality that inspired groups like We Have Voice
, aimed at the prevention of harassment, self-preservation and promotion, and codes aimed at advancing women's artistic careers. In Part 3
we leapfrog to present day, looking at one of several organizations that are dedicated to furthering the cause of women in the genre but not to the exclusion of others.
International Women in Jazz
International Women in Jazz (IWJ) is a non-profit dedicated to supporting women jazz artists and associated professionals in the genre. The organization's goals state: "We recognize and acknowledge the contributions women make to jazz worldwide. Through our programs, IWJ provides information and assistance to its members, thus standing dedicated to actively ensuring a place for women as a vital part of the past, present, and future of Jazz." Among the opportunities created are platforms that give members exposure to new audiences. Pre-coronavirus limitations of 2020 there is First Mondays Jam Session
where jazz artists meet on the first Monday of each month at Saint Peter's Church, Music Room, at 54th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. The sessions are often linked with a cultural theme such as Black History Month
and Bronx Rising: Fancy Footwork in the Diaspora
. The latter event was a celebration "tracing the routes of rhythmic footwork from Africa and Europe to the Western Hemisphere...." IWJ hosts Women in Jazz Festivals
, seminars, Youth in Action
a mentoring programand other events. Among those who have headlined IWJ festivals are Grace Kelly
, Bobby Humphrey, Andrea Wolper
, Toshiko Akiyoshi
, Annie Ross, and Marion McPartland
Jacqueline Lennon is President of International Women in Jazz. Her interest in jazz began in childhood: "My mother introduced me to jazz music reciting many artists, big bands, dance crazes, and playing her jazz record collection. She sang songs from the 1930s1940s. Her favorite singer was Billie Holiday
who also became mine. I was always hanging around her to learn and hear more about jazz music during her era. This was our time in the kitchen while she cooked. Mom played her favorite song on the piano, Duke Ellington
's 'Sophisticated Lady.' I took piano lessons and gave recitals at church but always mindful to play her jazz music at home."
Ms. Lennon came to her role in the IWJ in an indirect way. "I attained my BBA from Baruch College and a Masters of Science from Fordham University. I was part of the executive administration at major NYC hospitals as director of Marketing and Public Relations, board member, newsletter editor, and coordinator of major events. I worked with all ethnic and religious groups within the community, observing their customs and engaging government, embassy officials, and entertainers relative to the events. My favorite was hosting a large reception for the Princess of Belgium and her entourage and securing the late Gil Noble of ABC TV Like It Is
for Black History Month where many of the hospital physicians lined up for his autograph. This led to hosting hospital community TV programs. I also sang at major events and was often affectionately called the hospitals' songstress.
I worked with bands as a featured vocalist, wrote and recorded songs, and produced and promoted my own events. For over 25 years and currently, I produce, edit, and host Jackie and Company
, my public access TV show, interviewing persons of interest, and promoting jazz music. I was later employed as the first woman and African American to head a major cable company in the U.S. as general manager and awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the NYS Black & Puerto Rican Legislature. I was also Manhattan NAACP vocal coach for its ACTSO youth program and awarded first place for 2 consecutive years at their National Olympics program.
My music interest broadened when I volunteered and later joined International Women in Jazz a nonprofit 501c3 organized in 1994. It grew out of a seminar on women in jazz organized by Pastor Dale Lind and held at Saint Peter's Church in New York City. Many women prominent in jazz were present, including Universal Jazz Coalition founder Cobi Narita, writer Leslie Gourse, and Lorraine Gordon, owner of the renowned Village Vanguard. The discussion raised many issues, that it became apparent an ongoing forum or organization was needed to address the unmet needs of women in jazz. Cobi Narita raised the idea of creating an organization of artists and jazz lovers to advance the careers of women in jazz artists and IWJ was incorporated in 1995, operating out of Saint Peter's Church."
"I was attracted to their message and their efforts and in 2009 I joined the board of directors as Board Secretary. I saw the need to provide and transfer my business and marketing skills to boosts the organization's level of performance and assist with the annual International Women in Jazz Festivals and other events under the tutelage of Dotti Anita Taylor, past president. After 2½ years I was elected President of International Women in Jazz. We hold monthly First Monday Jam and Open Mic sessions and presented educational workshops. Our major event is our annual IWJ Women in Jazz Festival fundraiser for female adults and youth musicians where we showcase members, present renowned female headliners, and honor those influential in the jazz industry."
I asked Ms. Lennon how she would account for the marginalizing of women in jazz: "Looking back to Hardin and Calloway, they sought aggressively to have more independence and influence breaking ground as band leaders despite being victims of racism, sexism and gender discrimination. Orchestration, composing and performance by female musicians need more highlighting and fact checking to use as teaching tools especially for our young musicians. Male musicians who have made their mark must include board members and teams with representatives of gender equality in decision-making arenas. We are now in a new year or new era of the women. For the past several years, publicly exposing these disparities created more opportunities...applying to women musicians as well. Through advocacy, these abnormalities and antiquated ideas are now being brought to light in occupations and professions held by women. The Me-Too Movement, women advocacy groups, women's marches for equal pay, and supportive legislation are all part of this process for change. It is in everyone's interest and right to support the causes and continue to vocalize the differences and set the stage for correctness."
Ms. Lennon is cautiously optimistic about the difficulties faced by an organization predominantly seeking to assist women artists. She says: "The window of opportunities has opened but not as wide as it should be. The influence of women in jazz over the decades has been recognized but remains foreign to many younger musicians. I consider myself an impresario of a unique organization providing performance platforms and sharing music and career information to members. To accentuate this positive effort, IWJ members are actively involved. They often pass on their contacts and events that would support and embrace IWJ. I am a believer that an organization is as good as its members and I try to make sure they are apprised of industry updates, events, and grants available for career development. IWJ membership consists of emerging artists, established artists, and elder statespersons. Some are teachers of jazz music, NEA Jazz Masters and Broadway actors, and composers. All have a variety of ideas, opinions, and points of view to improve and embrace IWJ making my job a little easier."
IWJ has a number of affiliations with other organizations as Ms. Lennon explains the mutual benefits of those partnerships. "Our affiliation with Donne in Música in Italy, an advocate for women in music worldwide, has written articles about IWJ in its international newsletter. They hold international music competitions for female artists. IWJ member, Jane Meryll won its composers' competition in 2018 and was part of its celebration in Rome, Italy. Other successful partnerships include Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium and IWJ [who] together presented a Women in Jazz Day symposium and concerts. Working with Bessie Edwards, Executive Director, and her team increased publicity for both organizations. Project 142 with Scot Albertson, artistic director, has collaborated with IWJ on several successful events, provided entre to new venues, audiences, and increased membership. Jazz Foundation of America, WBGO, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Hot House Jazz Guide' and Sam Ash Music Stores, Jim Eigo Promo Services, et al have supported us over the years and in a variety of ways. Partnering makes it possible to join forces, share our ideas, be cost-effective, and expand our audiences. It's a win, win. Organizations must refocus and continue their support of each other especially during this time of the pandemic. When this is over, we will be able to address our new normal and its challenges and continue to uplift our communities with music, the universal language."
I asked how IWJ's recent collaboration with the Skipp Pearson
Legacy Jazz Foundation came to be. Ms. Lennon explains: "An IWJ member, Debbie Goodridge, thought I may be interested in speaking with Shirley Martin about her International Jazz Day project. Shirley was seeking partnerships to join her all-day UNESCO International Jazz Day
focusing on women in jazz. Although this event was cancelled due to the pandemic, Shirley was able to design and complete her virtual theatres with my narration for this project in record time. We were treading new technology, but it was a learned and successful event. We understand the importance of jazz music by acknowledging and keeping its history intact. I consider Shirley Martin my go-to guru for jazz.
Ms. Lennon has some specific artists that she would like to feature in upcoming International Women in Jazz Festivals including Esperanza Spalding
, Dianne Reeves
, and Carmen Lundy
. The latter two she considers "jazz staples in the industry who possess the history, teachings and modern wisdom of jazz."
IWJ also provides young musicians with the knowledge needed to make a living while performing. Pre-pandemic they offered in-person programs but now anticipate more online workshops. "Musicians performing at IWJ events receive a contract to sign. Many young musicians see contracts for the first time and may not understand the jargon. IWJ has a legal consultant who writes our contracts and is available for clarification as is our financial consultant when the need arises. We have distributed member surveys asking what activities they would like IWJ to provide and workshops on several items including the above topics. IWJ members are very aware, involved, and aggressive with their own careers. They often pass on their contacts and events that would support IWJ."
"IWJ has an impressive list of young musicians, who have evolved into successful music careers, continuing their music studies, and involved in promoting jazz music. This is a short list but see our website for more at internationalwomeninjazz.org and click Awards. The following youth have performed at our Women in Jazz Festivals as recipients of the IWJ Youth in Action award: 1) Charenee Wade, vocalist, was our first recipient in 1998 and was our headliner at IWJ Women in Jazz Festival in 2018. 2) Camille Thurman, saxophonist, and vocalist is the first woman musician in the Jazz Lincoln Center Orchestra. 3) Leonieke Scheuble, pianist and organist and 2x winner of IWJ Youth award, has dedicated her first CD to IWJ. She performs with her own trio. 4) Brittany Edwards, 2012 winner graduated from Boston University and was the president and spokesperson for Boston University's Inner-Strength Gospel Choir touring the U.S. meeting dignitaries and civil rights leaders. She continues to support IWJ as a volunteer. 5) Gabrielle Garo, multi-instrumentalist (flutist and saxophonist). Graduated from Julliard and with an M.A. from the New School. Gabrielle opened the 62nd GRAMMY Awards, with GRAMMY winner, Lizzo. 6) We' McDonald, vocalist, in 2017 placed 3rd place on NBC's The Voice and coached under Alicia Keyes."
The organization now has an additional focus on the new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, they are reviewing business practices and learning new technology to improve communications and restructure fundraising efforts. Jacqueline Lennon is most proud of IWJ having promoting and expanded the "international" in International Women in Jazz by increasing membership to reflect the global community. She provided a representative sample of members for the interviews that follow.
IWJ Members Yuko Togami
"I was born in Saitama, Japan, and exposed to music at an early age as my mother was a piano and Eurhythmics teacher. I started taking Eurhythmics classes and playing piano when I was about 5. Later on, I also started playing marimba and studied classical music until I graduated from high school. While I was in high school, I became interested in drums and began taking drum lessons. In 2013, I moved to New York City to further pursue my musical studies. I earned a BFA degree in jazz performance from the City College of New York in 2017. I have been performing regularly in NYC and I have also done tours in Japan as a leader in fall 2018 and 2019. I released my debut album "Dawn" in April 2018, and it has won a Silver Medal at the 2018 Global Music Awards for Outstanding Achievement. I also became an endorser of Canopus Drums in 2018." Mauricio de Souza
"My name is Mauricio de Souza and I am a Brazilian jazz drummer. I play both straight ahead and Brazilian jazz. I studied with jazz drummer Joe Morello for eight years. As a bandleader, I have released four commercial albums to date; three albums on the Pulsa label, Here. There...
(2010), Different Directions
(2013), and Trajetórias
(2016) and Five Roads
(Pitoca Music, 2018). The first two feature both my Brazilian jazz group, Bossa Brasil, and my straight-ahead jazz group, Mauricio de Souza Group. The third and fourth albums feature only Bossa Brasil."
I have had the pleasure of recording/performing with Mike Stern
, Marc Copland
, Gary Mazzaroppi (acoustic bass), John Lee (electric bass), Sharel Cassity (alto sax), Greg Gisbert (trumpet), Yvette Norwood (vocal), Dmitry Baevsky (alto sax), Adrian Cunningham (tenor sax), Miho Nobuzane (piano), Nancy Harms (vocal), and Bob Rodriguez (piano). Highlight performances as a bandleader include appearances at Blue Note, NJPAC, Festival International de Jazz de Quebec, Palm Beach International Jazz Festival, Saint Peter's Church, and Kitano Hotel. As a sideman, I have also performed at Birdland." Andrea Brachfeld
Brachfeld was awarded the Louis Armstrong
Award for outstanding Jazz student from Jazz Interactions in 1974. She attended the Manhattan School of Music and took lessons from Hubert Laws
. She has recorded nine albums of standards and original music working with top artists such as Rufus Reid
and Wycliffe Gordon
. Antoinette Montague
Antoinette Montague has released two albums under her name: Pretty Blues
(Consolidated Artists Productions, 2006) and Behind The Smile
(In The Groove, 2010). She was backed by Mulgrew Miller
, Kenny Washington
, and Peter Washington
on both albums. Her most recent release is World Peace in the Key of Jazz
(Blues/Straight Ahead, 2015). She describes herself: "Antoinette Montague, aka Jazz Woman to the Rescue, has performed with Jazzmobile, Jazz At Lincoln Center, Charlie Parker
Fest,, Blue Nite, Global Fears, in Russia, South Korea, France, and more. Advisory Board Chair of IWJ serving and supporting their efforts actively. BOD Duke Ellington Center for the Arts with Mercedes Ellington
, and my own 501c3 Jazz Woman to the Rescue that encourages giving instruments to disenfranchised children and putting music back in schools. I am an on-air radio host of WHCR (Harlem Community Radio)...and am starting my own Jazz Radio Station online. Each Sunday I host and co-curate Music While We're Inside
with Alina Bloomgarden, and Richard Miller. Alina started Jazz at Lincoln Center and hired Wynton Marsalis
. All About Jazz
: What was your earliest meaningful experience with music? Why was it meaningful? Yuko Togami
: "Learning eurhythmics was my earliest meaningful experience with music because it really helped me build a solid musical foundation. I began taking eurhythmics classes at the age of 3, and did a lot of ear-training, improvisation, and learned how to express music through body movement. It was fun, and I was able to establish connections between my ears, body, mind, and music." Mauricio de Souza
: "The first time I sat down to play drums. I was visiting a friend of my Uncle's and his son played drums. He showed me a basic beat and drum fill, I kept playing them over and over again. It was a meaningful experience because drums became my instrument (initially I was interested in the guitar)." Andrea Brachfeld
: "I was offered to play the flute in school when I was 10 years old. I had been playing the piano since I was 6 but my parents made me play the piano. I chose the flute so that was the most meaningful thing to me! It was meaningful because I wasn't pressured to practice. I wanted to." Antoinette Montague
: "As a young child with a mother who sang beautifully. Then later as a clarinetist in elementary school. Decades later, Bob Kay (music teacher) subbed as a pianist in Dave Chamberlain's Band of Bones. My mother's singing is in the marrow of my bones. Bob Kay seeing my development as a professional who audiences enjoy, was a source of personal gratification for myself, and Bob." AAJ
: Can you give a specific example of being treated differently in the music field, because of gender bias? YT
: "I have been told often that I should smile more while I am playing, and also been told that I don't look like a drummer. At first, I wasn't taking that as 'gender bias' because I thought it could be part of a personality trait, but then I realized that it wouldn't really happen to male musicians. I also think that those people did not really mean to 'discriminate,' but they are not aware of their implicit bias." MS
: "I haven't experienced that." AB
: "I have always been treated differently because I am a woman but by practicing and dedicating myself to music, I overcame every situation. I remember one time I walked into a jazz club in the Bronx called the Salt and Pepper Lounge
near the Grand Concourse. We heard there was a jam session going on. I was with a bassist and trombone player; both men and Latino. The guy in charge was playing a bass saxophone. When they finished the tune, I asked if I could sit in. I always got that look like'you think you can play jazz?'and they liked what I looked like so they were intrigued. I used all of that to get on stage. I knew that once I started playing all the attitudes would change. That's exactly what happened and it still happens. Then I played all night! I don't remember my friends getting a chance to play. I use whatever I have to get a chance to play!" AM
: "Hmmm, I think it was more 'lack of experience' bias. Then I grew. I was forced to be a bandleader before I had a clue. But I'm clear after 25 years and have my footing. (STILL LEARNING). I understand where the music comes from...African Americans. Blues is the music we worked through our oppression. Jazz is the music of our liberation, shared throughout the world to help people liberate themselves among others." AAJ
: When did you join IWJ and what prompted you to become a member? YT
: "After the recommendation of a friend, I Joined IWJ in April 2018 because I was looking for more opportunities to perform, and also wanted to meet more fellow female musicians and make connections." MS
: "I joined IWJ in 2017 after performing at their 2016 Holiday party. I met a few of the IWJ members, coordinators, and musicians. I really liked their message of unity in jazz. In my opinion, in the arts in general what should matter most is a person's talents and artistic expression. Their gender shouldn't make any difference. We are all artists." AB
: "I was a member of IWJ back in the early '70s when Cobi Narita was actively involved. Every woman I knew was a member as we needed to stick together and help each other. It's that feeling of community and support that attracted me then and still does now." AM
: "I joined in 1998. I'm currently Advisory Board Chair supporting Jackie Lennon...My mentor Carrie Smith would get printed newsletters from IWJ. Carol Sudhalter [saxophonist] asked if I'd consult at a meeting because there were typical BOD issues. I did. Then joined. Dotti Anita Taylor was the next President. She asked if I'd be her Vice President. Together, we re-started the IWJ Jazz Fest." AAJ
: Do you have specific expectations as to how IWJ can help women in jazz? YT
: "I expect IWJ to create more opportunities for women in jazz to perform, work, learn, and make connections. I would also like them to raise more awareness of gender bias and help people find ways to improve issues both in and outside the jazz community." MS
: "I think that their events are a great opportunity to feature female jazz musicians and give all members a chance to play together, get to know other members and network." AB
: "IWJ is a great organization for networking and supporting each other." AM
: "This is an organization, mostly lead by African American women. It needs support and help. It's a volunteer organization, reliant upon help from members and people. Other organizations pretend they don't exist. Unite women (all women) and help. They need more grants, multigenerational instrumentalists and players. The other organizations comprised of women, treat them the way they hate being treated by men. Because their leadership is mainly white...they get more help. It needs to stop. It's time to support and help this organization that was there helping women long before." AAJ
: Why has jazz music remained such a patriarchal genre, other than with vocalists? Do you think it has been entrenched since the early days of the genre? YT
: "I think it has been entrenched since the early days of the genre because of traditional gender roles. I think that childbearing and taking care of house and family prevented women from continuing/pursuing their careers as musicians. In my opinion, gender stereotypes is another reason why jazz continues to display inequality." MS
: "It may be something that comes from the classical music tradition. The majority of the great composers (going back to the Baroque era at least) are male. It is refreshing to see female band leaders in the world of jazz and band leaders who feature female musicians in their groups." AB
: "I think this is a far more complicated question than just jazz music. It was typical until fairly recently, that men were the breadwinners in our society and women stayed at home to tend to the house and children. Although if one looks at matriarchal civilizations many hundreds and thousands of years ago, there were many matriarchal civilizations which thrived. So, when jazz developed in the early 1900's men were at the forefront of the scene. This music gave African American men a voice and they were empowered admits the incredible challenges of racism which still exist to this day. The mindset that women were incapable of expressing themselves in the same strong fashion and passion as men, hindered those women who just acquiesced to the societal norms and didn't have the fortitude, inner power, or courage to fight back. Then there was the question of the empowerment and ownership men felt to the music as a culture and rightly so. I think it is important for the balance of masculine and feminine energies within each individual to finally come to a head and for all people to realize that everyone has something to say and everyone should be respected and given the opportunity to do so." AM
: "So the framing of this question lets me know that the issues of 'women instrumentalist disenfranchising women singers' still needs healing, correction and education. Women instrumentalists look down upon women singers the way males do. Those instrumentalists that are properly taught, RESPECT singers. Harriet Tubman said 'Aint I A Woman.' Stop dividing women from women. It's a foolish, age-old trick. There also has to be a correction. This music that black men and women gave as a gift to the world needs to be honored. Until the inventors of the genre get support and it's understood the music was born out of oppression, do not the current players not understand they will get some of that oppression on themselves?? Poppa Joe Jones said there's not a problem musicians have they can't solve IF THEY WORK TOGETHER." AAJ
: What part can the jazz community play in the overall fight for gender equity? YT
: "Just being mindful and empathetic towards the issue will be a great start in the fight for gender equity." MS
: "I believe it can be achieved by focusing more on talent and artistic expression than on gender." AB
: "For me, the most important thing to do was to practice and develop myself as a strong, empowered woman and musician. I believe the music is the most important issue here. We must respect the music that comes out of a woman or a man. Promoters must realize that having women performers gives the women and girls in the audience a voice in the music and role models to develop themselves in their careers. I also believe that the most important thing is for men to not feel intimidated by strong players who are women as we are not trying to take over the business. We just want to play like everyone else." AM
: "Show business does this. Art does not. Artists..unite. More now than ever. Integration is a decades old concept. Gender division, Age division, craft division will not help women division. Women who are "leaders," do better. Stop the snobbery. Help the inventors. Use the privilege to support. Love US inventors of Blues and Jazz as much as you love the culture. Do so by not dismissing other women. Be they singers, or instrumentalists. Turning your backs on your Sister in Jazz is sinful and divisive." AAJ
: Have you had a mentor during your career, and, if yes, can you talk about the impact that had on you? YT
: "Ben Street
is one of the best mentors I have ever had. He played with so many legendary drummers including, Paul Motian
, Albert Albert "Tootie" Heath
, Andrew Cyrille
, Billy Hart
, and he would talk about what these masters are really doing. His lessons were totally eye-opening and even changed the way I hear music. He made me realize the importance of my own voice, and bringing my personal experiences on the instrument." MS
: "Yes, Joe Morello was the best teacher I have ever had. We became good friends and I used to hang out with him quite a bit beyond my lessons. He used to tell me countless stories about his life and career. He taught me a lot about the business and gave me very good advice in many areas." AB
: "I have had many mentors in my career including Hubert Laws, Joe Newman, and Mike Longo. The most important impact they both had on me was that they believed in me more than I believed in myself at the time." AM
: "I had several. Carrie Smith, jazz and blues powerhouse of Broadways Black and Blue. She put me in the hands of Etta Jones
, Norman Simmons, and the Great Inez McClendon (music educator) who succumbed to pneumonia and possibly Covid19. There was a saxophonist as well. I learned the business before the internet. I learned how to travel light. I learned how to walk on and off a bandstand. I learned to RESPECT the protocol of the bandstand. How to lead a band, and support the many musicians in what little community there is beyond cliques and school chum stuff. I learned the craft the true grit way. Making a name for yourself. Owning your own company (Norman Simmons who told me the story of Betty Carter
being a partner in BetCar records, licensing, distribution and so much more,) Carrie Smith taught me power on stage. Etta Jones taught me to be a singer and instrumentalist friendly. They gave me a supermarket of artistic styles of sound and PRESENTATION in which to view, then develop my own Voice and style of clothing. "You can only be a number one YOU and a number two of somebody else."
While each of the musicians have taught students, Antoinette Montague has been the most active as a mentor. She says that she has mentored several protégés: "Many on top today. King Solomon Hicks, Camile Thurmon (both of whom I gave their first paid gigs), Jazzmia Horn, Brian Fender Shirley, and many, many more. I teach for Robin Belle Stevens of Jazzmobile at the Celia Cruise School, Eli Yamen's Jazz Power Initiative, Association of Children Services teaching foster care children singing, Marymount Manhattan College as a Professor of Jazz and Blues History and Singing, Alina Bloomgarden's Music on the Inside (teaching blues of redemption, breathing and singing) to incarcerated persons. It's a blessing to share this music, stories, quotes, philosophies, and LOVE from, to, and about this music." AAJ
: What would you consider the most challenging issues you face as a jazz artist? Do you feel that an organization such as IWJ has the resources to address those issues? YT
: "Booking gigs and creating more work opportunities have been really challenging for me. Also, promoting myself and building a larger following have also been tough. Time management is another challenging issue as I am always trying to find the balance between practicing, teaching, composing, and so on. IWJ has provided me opportunities and I really appreciate what they do to support female musicians. I have played for their open mics as a member of IWJ band at Gin Fizz Harlem, Bar Thalia of Symphony Space, and collaborated with wonderful female musicians such as Bertha Hope, and Iris Ornig. I hope they will continue expanding the resources even more." MS
: "In my experience, it has been very difficult to move my career beyond the plateau I have been on. Trying to figure out how to get my group on the road and start expanding our geographical performance area has been very challenging. I believe that their events are a great opportunity to meet other artists and professionals in the music business. Networking is key to achieve any goals an artist may have." AB
: "The most challenging issue I have had was to get continuous and steady work. IWJ helps in every way they can. Thinking outside of the box for performances is always helpful." AM
: "Right now, COVID-19 creates the extra need to think of ways to bring my business of singing inside and do Zoom concerts and more. Teaching, inside. It gave me a chance to pause, and rest. Ready to rock and roll...stay joyful and endure all these deaths and put it in the music. I lost a long-time mentor Inez McClendon. We couldn't even say a traditional goodbye...What a time period. The other challenge is how to keep peaceful and unify amid the exposure of so much hate. Jazz Musicians Unite and Rescue is the best way to help. If you have the skin that brings privilege, help. Do better. Be better. On a granular level. As long as they have been on the scene, we've seen other folks receive $50,000 grants form significant musical organizations. This organization celebrated and gave great encouragement and exposure to folks on top today. They don't look back, or help. Folks should do better. Come and work and help IWJ." AAJ
: How can an organization like the IWJ influence the greater jazz community to create more opportunities/more parity for women? YT
: "I think by holding more events, and promoting women in jazz on social media or other digital media, print media, etc., they could help create more opportunities that will create more parity for women." MS
: "I think IWJ already does a stellar job in bringing attention to female jazz musicians by continuing to expand the number of members, promoting their annual jazz festival and events, and continuing to partner with jazz publications and radio stations." AB
: "I think that IWJ is doing all they can possibly do at this time. We live in a very congested area where so many musicians are vying for the same gigs. Perhaps reaching out to less populated areas might be helpful." AM
: "This article can help present them, so they can support more programming and hire folks, even on Zoom, FB, IGram [Instagram], hiring for the many events they do throughout the year and the ability to pay the women and often men more, is the way."
Andrea Brachfeld and Antoinette Montague added some additional thoughts. AB
: "This is a democratic experience and when you are on that stage, you are communicating with other musicians, listening and playing...Being a jazz musician is a unique experience in creating beautiful music while connecting with other people on and off the stage." AM
: "It's so easy to forget history...Sexism, racism, hate. Women are hugely important. COVID-19 would be in a far more horrible state without women, wives, and girlfriends of musicians helping; Jazz would be in a horrible state. Women, stop treating other women in an often more demeaning state than men treat some of you...Respect and love people like you love our culture... When everyone (men especially) see unity on a higher level, then we'll get the respect we need...from ourselves."
The Effectiveness of Advocacy
Change rarely happens without some system of advocacy, and effective advocacy is difficult. Non-profits often have to mix their agendas with the expectations of funders. An organization such as International Women in Jazz shouldn't need to be concerned about crossing partisan lines, but issues of equality are
fundamentally political. It's not enough to display a bumper sticker and develop a strategy. IWJ canand doesshow progress through its programs, but it's slow and idiosyncratic and feels like something we shouldn't still be talking about in the twenty-first century. The marginalization of women in jazz, like the marginalization of any population, is a cultural issue and only changes in behavior will move the needle in a significant way.
Yuko Togami Dawn
(Self Produced, 2018)
A mix of covers, original compositions, and group improvisation in a flexible trio setting; i.e., two pianists trade off duties. Not an earth-shaking debut, Dawn
nevertheless demonstrates imagination and promise. The music is sometimes groove-oriented, or instinctual, such as Oliver Nelson
's "Stolen Moments," or introspective as on "Autumn Path."
Noctiluca; Got to Be There; Why Not; Firstborns; I Loves You, Porgy; Stolen Moments; Chan's Song (Never Said); Autumn Path.
Yuko Togami: drums, piano (8); Takaaki Otomo: piano (1, 4, 5), Fender Rhodes; Ben Paterson: piano (3, 7), organ (6); Jakob Dreyer: bass (1, 2, 5); Nori Naraoka: bass (3, 4, 6, 7).
Antoinette Montague Behind The Smile
(Allegro Music, 2009)
On the assortment of standards, blues, gospel, and soul tunes, Montague has strong support from journeymen reed player Bill Easley
, bassist Peter Washington
, drummer Kenny Washington
, and the late pianist Mulgrew Miller
. Though she handles all genres/styles with assurance, her voice really shines on the blues selections.
Behind the Smile; I Hadn't Anyone Till You; Give Your Mama One Smile; Ever Since the One I Love's Been Gone; What's Going On; The Song Is You; I'd Rather Have a Memory Than a Dream; Lost in Meditation; Get Ready; Summer Song; Somewhere in the Night; Meet Me at No Special Place; 23rd Psalm.
Antoinette Montague: vocals; Bill Easley: saxophone, flute, clarinet; Mulgrew Miller: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Kenny Washington: drums.
Andrea Brachfeld If Not Now, When?
Brachfeld has shown an affinity for Latin and World music but her palette is broader and more adventurous. If Not Now, When?
is peppered with exhilarating hard bop and demanding improvisation. Brachfeld penned all but one of these pieces ten compositions, five with pianist Bill O'Connell and closes the album with a cover of "Amazing Grace."
The Listening Song; Steppin'; Creating Space; The Silence; Anima Mea; Movers And Shakers; Deeply I Live; Moving Forward; The Opening; Amazing Grace.
Andrea Brachfeld: flute; Jason Tiemann: drums; Harvie S: bass; Bill O'Connell: piano.
Photo of Jacqueline Lennon courtesy of IWJ