Women in Jazz – a sampling

20 Dec

Vi Redd, although greatly underrecorded throughout her career, is a passionate bop-based altoist and an exciting singer. The daughter of drummer Alton Redd, Vi was surrounded by music while growing up. She played locally, worked outside of music for the Board of Education during 1957-60 before returning to jazz. Redd played in Las Vegas in 1962, was with Earl Hines in 1964 and led a group in San Francisco in the mid-1960’s with her husband, drummer Richie Goldberg. Among her other associations were Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie (1968) and Count Basie. In 1969 Vi Redd settled in Los Angeles where she has gigged locally on an occasional basis while being busy as an educator. She led albums for United Artists (1962) and Atco (1962-63) but surprisingly no record sessions since. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

Marian McPartland was a musical prodigy from the time she could sit at the piano, about the age of three. Marian studied classical music, and the violin, in addition to the piano.  She pursued classical studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Much to the dismay of her family, she developed a love for American jazz and musicians such as Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson, Mary Lou Williams, and many others. In 1938, despite her family’s efforts to keep her at Guildhall, Marian left to join Billy Mayerl’s Claviers, a four-piano vaudeville act, performing under the stage name Marian Page. The group toured throughout Europe during World War II, entertaining Allied troops.

While touring with USO shows in Belgium, she met and began performing with Chicago cornetist Jimmy McPartland in 1944. The two were soon married, and played at their own wedding on a military base in Germany.

After the war, the couple moved to Chicago to be near Jimmy’s family. Then, in 1949, they moved to Manhattan where they lived in an apartment in the same building as the Nordstrom Sisters. With Jimmy’s help and encouragement, Marian started her own trio and began a long residency at the famous New York City jazz nightclub, the Hickory House, from 1952-1960, where she worked with drummer Joe Morello until his departure to join Dave Brubeck’s Quartet.

McPartland claims not to read music (despite her early training). On the other hand, she plays and transposes in all keys, and knows virtually every jazz standard ever written. Just before her 90th birthday, she composed and performed a symphonic piece, “A Portrait of Rachel Carson” to mark the centennial of the environmental pioneer.  from Wikipedia

Geri Allen (born June 12, 1957 in Pontiac, Michigan) is an American post bop jazz pianist, producer, and music educator from Detroit, Michigan, who has worked with many of the greats of modern jazz, including Dave Holland, Ron Carter, Ravi Coltrane, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Ornette Coleman, Betty Carter, Mary Stallings, and Charles Lloyd. She cites her primary influences to be Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans. She is married to trumpeter Wallace Roney. Wikipedia

Renowned drummer Terri Lyne Carrington (born 1965 in Medford, Massachusetts) is a musician, composer, producer and clinician. Recently, she was appointed professor at her alma mater, Berklee College of Music, which is also where she received an honorary doctorate in 2003. Wikipedia

The teenage sax sensation Grace Kelly!

Internationally renowned guitarist/composer/recording artist Mimi Fox has been named a winner in 6 consecutive Downbeat Magazine international critic’s polls and has been recognized by writers and colleagues alike as one of the most eloquent jazz guitarists on today’s scene. In one of many feature stories, Guitar Player Magazine hailed Mimi as “a prodigious talent who has not only mastered the traditional forms but has managed to reinvigorate them.”  from her website bio

Alice Coltrane: Born in Detroit, Michigan, Coltrane studied classical music, and was given piano lessons by Bud Powell. She began playing jazz as a professional in Detroit, with her own trio and as a duo with vibist Terry Pollard. From 1962 to 1963 she played with Terry Gibbs’s quartet, during which time she met John Coltrane. She replaced McCoy Tyner as pianist with John Coltrane’s group in 1965. She married Coltrane in 1966, and continued playing with the band until his death in 1967. from Wikipedia

Darlene Moreno was soulman Barry White’s lead guitarist.  Here’s her website I’d like to hear more!

German born Susanne Alt makes her home in Amsterdam.

She was raised by parents who are musicians/music teachers. They taught her classical piano and guitar at an early age. When she was 12 years old, she switched to saxophone. At the age of 15, after winning regional and national prizes she became external student at the Meistersingerkonservatorium Nürnberg where she studied classical saxophone.  from her website

Eliane Elias started with the piano at age six. Her mother was a classical pianist who often played jazz records in the family home. Eliane studied at the Free Center of Music Apprenticeship in São Paulo. She started composing and, more notably, performing her own jazz pieces at seventeen. She became known to the Brazilian public when she joined Brazilian singer/guitarist/songwriter Toquinho and poet/entertainer Vinicius de Moraes, with whom she made concert tours, mainly through South America.  Wikipedia

Candy Dulfer (born 19 September 1969) is a Dutch smooth jazz alto saxophonist. She started to play saxophone at the age of six. She has had her own band, Funky Stuff, since she was fourteen. Her debut album Saxuality (1990) received a Grammy Award nomination. Over the years she released nine studio albums, two live albums, and one compilation album.  From Wikipedia

Cindy Blackman (born November 18, 1959 in Yellow Springs, Ohio) is an American jazz and rock drummer. Blackman is most well-known for recording and touring with Lenny Kravitz. Blackman has recorded several straight-ahead jazz albums under her own name, and has performed with acclaimed jazz and rock artists, including Pharoah Sanders, Ron Carter, Sam Rivers, Cassandra Wilson, Angela Bofill, Buckethead, Bill Laswell and Joe Henderson. Tony Williams is her main drumming influence. In 1997 she recorded Multiplicity as a drum teaching video. “To me, jazz is the highest form of music that you can play because of the creative requirements,” says Blackman.  From Wikipedia

Here’s young bass sensation Tal Wilkenfeld on tour with Chick Corea

If there is one instrument where the female multi-tasking brain excels, it’s the organ with with bass pedals.  Ethel Smith is featured in the clip above.

Ethel Smith (November 22, 1910 – May 10, 1996) was an organist who played primarily in a pop style on the Hammond organ.

Her recording of Tico Tico was her best-known hit. It reached No. 14 on the U.S. pop charts in November 1944 and sold over one million copies worldwide. She also recorded it for the 1944 film, Bathing Beauty. She was married to Ralph Bellamy from 1945 to 1947. She died on May 10, 1996.  from Wikipedia

The clip above features the great Rhoda Scott with her female band (Julie Saury, Sophie Alour, Lisa Catberro) playing her excellent composition “Nova”.

Rhoda Scott (b. July 3, 1938 in Dorothy, New Jersey) is an African-American hard bop and soul jazz organist.

The daughter of an AME minister, Scott spent much of her childhood in New Jersey, where she learned to play organ in the churches where her father served. Soon she herself was serving frequently as organist for youth and gospel choirs at her father’s and other churches. Scott later studied classical piano, but she concentrated on the organ, eventually earning a Masters’ degree in music theory from the Manhattan School of Music. By this time she had been asked by a choir member to fill in with a small band as a jazz pianist. Enjoying the music, she agreed to stay on with the band on condition that she be allowed to play organ instead of piano. Choosing as her instrument the Hammond Organ, she soon became a preeminent jazz musician and is considered by many to be the top female jazz organist.

Scott was first attracted to the organ in her father’s church at age seven. “It’s really the most beautiful instrument in the world,” she stated in a recent interview. “The first thing I did was take my shoes off and work the pedals.”[1] From then on she always played her church organ in her bare feet, and to this date she has continued the practice, earning her nicknames such as “The Barefoot Lady” and “The Barefoot Contessa.” Following her lead, many other performers of popular organ music now also play barefoot. Because of her church training, however, Scott uses the pedals to play a genuine bass line, unlike many other jazz organists, which allows her to use her left hand for more elaborate chord work.[2] The resulting music is an energetic fusion of musical styles that partakes of jazz, gospel, and classical, reflecting both Scott’s early experience and her formal training.

In 1967 Scott moved to France, where she has since spent most of her career and earned recognition far greater than that accorded to her in the United States, though she often performs in the latter country as well.  from Wikipedia

Here’s Atsuko Hashimoto (with Mimi Fox on guitar)

Hashimoto first played the organ at the age of four, beginning with popular songs and jazz standards. Before choosing to specialize in jazz she trained in classical music for several years. At 18, she began working for Hammond Japan demonstrating organs and giving lessons as a Hammond-certified instructor.

In 1991, Hashimoto became the house organ player at the Don Shop in Osaka. The next year, she fronted her own organ quartet at the Osaka Jazz Festival and Naniwa Arts Festival. These appearances led to collaborations with Makoto Ozone and Terumasa Hino.

In 1999, Hashimoto debuted in the US, playing at clubs in New Orleans as well as Jazz at Pearl’s in San Francisco, where she performed with Bruce Forman on guitar and Vince Lateano on drums. In 2000, she toured Japan with “Brother” Jack McDuff and his band, and in September that year shared the bill with Dr. Lonnie Smith at Blue Note Osaka. 2001 saw Atsuko return to California, playing at the San Jose Jazz Festival, The Baked Potato in Studio City and the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. She played at the 2001 Jazz Organ Summit with Yutaka Hashimoto and Fukushi Tainaka.

In 2002, while he was touring Japan with Diana Krall, Jeff Hamilton first heard from other musicians about the electrifying Atsuko Hashimoto “holding court” at the Don Shop, enthralling audiences while playing jazz after hours. Following his set in Osaka, Hamilton went to hear her play and after a few songs, he asked and was invited to sit in with her on stage for a ‘jam’. Hamilton has said the experience resolved in him a desire to tour and record with Hashimoto. Hashimoto and Hamilton have recorded two CDs together, touring to support the recordings.  from Wikipedia

The queen of B3 Barbara Dennerlein

This is just a sample, there are SO many great women players!


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