31 Women in Jazz … and Only Women

Members of Artemis – Allison Miller, Melissa Aldana, Noriko Ueda, Anat Cohen

In 2020, for the first time, woman musicians won half of the instrumental categories in the Jazz Journalists Association’s annual awards program. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we are going to turn over the next several programs to women artists, whose numbers are steadily growing within the jazz ranks, making the music stronger. This hour of Jazz at 100 Today! will explore the music of All-Women groups – Terri Lyne Carrington & The Mosaic Project, Monika Herzig’s Sheroes, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, The Tiptons Sax Quartet and Artemis. Jazz Women in the next hour of Jazz at 100 Today!

Monika Hertzig, Terri Lyne Carrington & The Mosaic Project, and Artemis
In 2015, pianist, composer and educator Monika Herzig released her disc The Whole World in Her Hands with a band of A-list women players. The music, mostly composed by the players, includes Herzig’s touching Peaceful Piece, a stirring vehicle for Jamie Baum on flute and the composer on piano. The rest of the ensemble includes Reut Regev on trombone and Lekecia Benjamin on alto completing the front line and Linda May Han Oh on bass, Jennifer Vincent on cello and Ariana Fanning on drums. Other selections also feature Jane Bunnett on soprano and Leni Stern on guitar.

Drummer, bandleader and composer Terri Lyne Carrington assembled another sterling line-up of women jazz players for the disc, The Mosaic Project. The band was composed of Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, Anat Cohen on clarinet and soprano, Haily Niswanger on flute, Tineke Postma on alto and soprano along with Linda Taylor on guitar, either Geri Allen or Helen Sung on piano, Chia-Yin Carol Ma on bass with a variety of vocalists. Vocalist Gretchen Parlato is brought in to introduce the Lennon – McCartney standard Michelle with some lovely ensemble passages by the band. Mark F. Turner wrote on AllAboutJazz, “There’s even more to enjoy with the up-tempo remake of The Beatles’ ballad Michelle, as hard-swinging jazz melds with urban funkiness, pumped by riveting solos from pianist Geri Allen, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and saxophonist Tineke Postma.”

Most recently, the new band Artemis released its first and eponymous disc in 2020. Mike Jurkovic, in his review, laments that we are still faced with recognizing the novelty of an all-women super-group. Suggesting that we can look forward to a time when such qualifiers are no longer relevant, he writes, “Until that day we no longer feel the need to identify such things, we turn, as every society does, to our artists to lead, and lead Artemis does. How could it not when pianist and musical director Renee Rosnes joins equally fierce forces with tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, drummer Allison Miller, bassist Noriko Ueda, and featured vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant for a tough, tight and tenacious nine song set that catches fire immediately with Miller’s Goddess of the Hunt. A wily composition that brings each member to the fore without breaking the ensemble’s inherent integrity. On Goddess of the Hunt – propelled by Rosnes’ and Ueda’s insistence and Miller’s persistence – Aldana and Jensen run the gamut as Cohen binds it all together. It’s a kick-off not to be to missed.”

Peaceful Piece. Monika Herzig Septet
(Reut Regev-tb, Lekecia Benjamin-as, Jamie Baum-fl, Monika Herzig-p, Linda Oh-b, Jennifer Vincent-cel, Arianna Fanning-d). From The Whole World In Her Hand. Whaling City. 2015.
Michelle. Terri Lyne Carrington & The Mosaic Project
(Ingrid Jensen-tp/flh, Anat Cohen-cl/bcl/ss, Haily Niswanger-fl, Tineke Postma-as/ss, Geri Allen-p, Linda Taylor-g, Chia-Yin Carol Ma-vln, Terri Lyne Carrington-d/per, Gretchen Parlato-voc). From The Mosaic Project. Concord Music. 2011.
Goddess of the Hunt. Artemis
(Ingrid Jensen-tp, Anat Cohen-cl, Melissa Aldana-ts, Renee Rosnes-p, Noriko Ueda-b, Allsion Miller-d). From Artemis. Blue Note. 2020.

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque and the Tipton Sax Quartet
Soprano saxophonist and flutist Jane Bunnett has released three discs with her band Maqueque, starting with their eponymous release in 2014. Unlike the bands we just heard consisting of many recognized players from the US scene, Maqueque is composed of young Cuban players, all women, led by the celebrated Canadian musician, who has been engrossed in Cuban music for three decades. As James Nadal writes, “the perennial danzon [a slow, formal partner dance] is realized on La Flamenca Maria, immersed in traditional Spanish splendor and grace. This is a tale of a gypsy fortune teller, a mysterious woman with strange powers to predict the romantic future.” As with most of the tunes on the second Maqueque disc Oddara, La Flamenca Maria is composed by a member of the band, bassist Celia Jimenez.

The Tiptons Sax Quartet are a long standing Seattle quartet of women saxophone players, typically supplemented by a percussionist. Formed in 1988, the band is named after Billy Tipton, a jazz pianist who was born Dorothy Lucille Tipton and, facing discrimination as a woman, found greater opportunities as a man. On their disc Cookbook, The Tiptons are saxophonists Amy Denio, Jessica Lurie, Tina Richardson and Sue Orfield, with Robert Kainar on percussion.

La Flamenca Maria. Jane Bunnett And Maqueque
(Jane Bunnett-fl/ss/whistling, Danae Olano-p/voc, Elizabeth Rodriguez-vln/voc, Celia Jimenez-b/voc, Yissy Garcia-d, Magdelys Savigne-per/voc, Melvis Santa-voc, Dayme Arocena-voc). From Oddara. 2016.
Tipango. The Tiptons Sax Quartet
(Amy Denio-ss/as/cl/voc, Jessica Lurie-ss/as/ts/voc, Tina Richerson-bs/voc, Sue Orfield-ts/voc, Robert Kainar-d/per). From Cookbook. Sowiesound. 2016.

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque, Artemis and Monika Hertzig & Sheroes
Bunnett and Maqueque released their most recent disc, On Firm Ground / Tierra Firme in 2019. The tune, Habana De Noche is composed by drummer Yissy Garcia, who, with Bunnett and spectacular pianist Danae Olano carry over from the previous recording. Raul D’Gama wrote on the Latin Jazz Network, “It’s tempting to suggest that the sensational evolution of Maqueque comes expressly courtesy of the infusion of a robust rhythm section newly fortified by their brilliant bassist Tailin Marrero, whose virtuosity is expressed equally on the highly combustible and near-ubiquitous electric bass and on the contrabass, which she plays with great facility con arco…. And then there is percussionist Mary Paz, who seems to have opened another perceptual door to the proverbial “percussion colourist’s” palette. This is not to take away from anything musical that may have come before. But the fact that these two musicians are generously spotlighted must account for something… and the effect that they have in terms of rounding out the inimitable sound of Yissy Garcia’s drums is magical. This album finds Miss Bunnett at the top of her game. Whether she is playing the flute or the soprano saxophone her voice is one of an artist in sublime form.”

Returning to Artemis, we’ll listen to trumpeter Ingrid Jensen’s imaginative arrangement of Lennon – McCartney’s A Fool on the Hill with tightly clustered horns behind memorable solos by Jensen and Renee Rosnes.

When Monika Herzig reconvened her all-woman band for their 2019 disc, she named them Sheroes. In this iteration, the band consists of Reut Regev, Jamie Baum, Leni Stern, Jennifer Vincent and Mayra Casales from the previous outing plus the omni-present Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, Ada Rovatti on tenor and Rosa Avila on drums. Hrayr Attarian wrote on AllAboutJazz, “Herzig’s romantic and tender Nancy Wilson Portrait opens with trumpeter Ingrid Jensen’s warm, bluesy phrases undulating in an intimate atmosphere. Jensen stretches out, embellishing the tune with grace and elegance, while Herzig’s dense chords, Avila’s soft brushes and Vincent’s reverberating strings provide a supportive framework. Herzig follows with a superbly lyrical and subtly virtuosic solo that brims with creative spontaneity.”

Habana De Noche (Havana At Night). Jane Bunnett and Maqueque
(Jane Bunnett-ss/fl, Danae Olano-p/voc, Tailin Marrero-b, Yissy Garcia-d, Mary Paz-per/voc, Joanna Majoke-voc). From On Firm Ground/Tierra Firme. Linus. 2019.
The Fool on the Hill. Artemis
(Ingrid Jensen-tp, Anat Cohen-cl, Melissa Aldana-ts, Renee Rosnes-p, Noriko Ueda-b, Allsion Miller-d, Cecile McLorin Salvant-d). From Artemis. Blue Note. 2020.
Nancy Wilson Portrait. Monika Herzig’s Sheroes
(Ingrid Jensen-tp, Reut Regev-tb, Ada Rovatti-ts, Jamie Baum-fl, Monika Herzig-p, Leni Stern-g, Jennifer Vincent-b, Rosa Avila-d, Mayra Casales-per). From Sheroes. Whaling City Records. 2018.

There will be a time when all-women jazz ensembles are no more notable than all-male ensembles are today. That these several groups represent a significant portion of the small pool of women jazz ensembles is a sign of how far we are from that day. These amazing releases shine a bright light on the way forward to a gender-neutral jazz performance world.

This is a good time to recognize the importance of local jazz organizations. Here in Charlottesville, Virginia, our own Charlottesville Jazz Society has, in recent years, hosted Monika Herzig and Sheroes, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, The Tiptons Sax Quartet and Allison Miller and Boom Tic Boom. So please support or continue to support your local jazz societies, they are an important part of connecting these musicians to their audience.

Turner, Mark F. (2011, November 14). AllAboutJazz. Terri Lyne Carrington: The Mosaic Project. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/the-mosaic-project-terri-lyne-carrington-concord-music-group-review-by-mark-f-turner.php

Jurkovic, Mike. (2020, September 10). AllaboutJazz. Artemis: Artemis. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/artemis-artemis-blue-note

Nadal, James. (2016, October 15). AllAboutJazz. Jane Bunnett & Maqueque: Oddara. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/oddara-jane-bunnett-linus-entertainment-review-by-james-nadal.php

Da Gama, Raul. (2016, October 24). Latin Jazz Network. Jane Bunnett and Maqueque: Oddara. https://latinjazznet.com/reviews/cds/featured-albums/jane-bunnett-and-maqueque-oddara/

Da Gama, Raul. (2019, September 3). Latin Jazz Network. Jane Bunnett and Maqueque: On Firm Ground/Tierra Firme. https://latinjazznet.com/reviews/cds/featured-albums/jane-bunnett-and-maqueque-on-firm-ground-tierra-firme/

Attarian, Hrayr. (2018, July 3). AllAboutJazz. Monika Herzig: Sheroes. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/sheroes-monika-herzig-whaling-city-sound-review-by-hrayr-attarian.php

For other programs in Jazz at 100 Today! visit: Jazz at 100 Today!

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