Women in Jazz
Abbey Lincoln - Vocalist
During these times of social unrest artists who were activists come to mind. Among the most staunch defenders of freedom was the singer Abbey Lincoln who was married to the drummer Max Roach. Her she is later in her life still making great music.
Alexa Tarantino - Saxophone
Alexa Tarantino on alto sax is a pleasant addition to the growing number of women playing the saxophone. Her straight ahead style makes her a sought out side musician in New York and a regular in jazz clubs with her own quartet.
Alice Coltrane - Harp
Today, August 25th is Alice Coltrane's birthday. Its nice when a woman reaches a level of success that its not necessary to mention her husbands name. Pianist, Flautist and a jazz giant. Here she is in a concert from the early 70's.
Alison Miller - Drummer
In 1991 Downbeat Magazine announced drummer Allison Miller was "up and coming." It has been straight "up" every since. She is described as a "powerful drummer with an unerring sense of swing," and exemplifies women musicians at their best.
Angelique Kidjo - Vocalist
Angelique Kidjo, the marvelous African artist from Benin, won a Grammy in 2020 for Best World Music Album with Celia, her tribute album to Celia Cruz who in her lifetime won enough Grammy's to fill a room. Here Angelique sings one of Celia's most famous songs.
Anita O'Day - Vocalist
One of the few jazz vocalists to be mentioned in the same sentence with Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn. Anita O'Day. Her drug habit kept her from the stardom the deserved but it couldn't take away her talent.
Annie Ross - Vocalist
If you do something exceptional, even if its for a short time, there is a chance it will be remembered and admired. That's the case with jazz vocalist, Annie Ross, who recently passed away at the age of 89. From 1958-62 she was part of the jazz trio, Lambert, Hendrix and Ross, which made a very clever decision to take straight-ahead jazz music and add lyrics. It gave them one of the most interesting sounds in jazz vocals. There is clearly a place for Annie Ross in jazz heaven.
Aretha Franklin - Vocalist
ARETHA FRANKLIN, March 25, 1942 - August 16, 2018. This is the second anniversary of Aretha's death. While she became the queen of soul her early jazz albums were some of her best. Here she is at International Jazz Day a few years before she passed. Long Live the Queen.
When you hear the sound of the organ you think of Jimmy Smith. From now on you can think of the soulful Barbara Dennerlein, a Germany musician who appears on this 1986 video with the legendary guitarist, Emily Remler, whose life was cut short in 1990 by dope.
Betty Carter - Vocalist
Jazz Times, as part of its 50th anniversary celebration, named the 10 best albums from 1980, the year of its inception. On that list is the album, Look What I Got by the always compelling, Betty Carter. She has clearly one of the most unique and interesting vocal styles in jazz.
Big Mama Thornton - Vocalist
Remembering Memorial Day. You get a lot of bbq and booze and invite all your friends over to join you in the backyard for an afternoon of laughing, lying and getting drunk. The musical back drop for this wonderful afternoon is the Blues. Jazz stays home on Memorial Day. Here is the best of the best, Buddy Guy with Big Mama Thornton singing, Ball and Chain. This can go way into the night unless the cops come and bust everyone for being Black and having fun.
Big Maybelle - Vocalist
Sometimes the song over shadows the artist. That is certainly the case with the blues singer Big Maybelle, who was a good blues singer who had a great song. Here's the song, Candy, which will always be around as long as there are blues fans.
Brandee Younger - Harp
The harp is not instrument that has attracted many jazz musicians. Alice Coltrane is credited with introducing it into her music with some level of success. Today the harp has a new advocate. It's Brandee Younger and here she does the Alice Coltrane composition, Rama Rama.
Brittany Howard - Vocalist
Some artists can sing any genre of music they choose. Brittany Howard is one of those. Her music always stands out and it defies a particular bag. In the current situation I cannot think of a better song that one that says, " I just want to stay high with you."
Camila Meza - Guitar
Camila Meza is a Chilean guitarist and singer with a very smooth sound that makes her a club favorite. Downbeat Magazine called her a rising star in 2018 and she has lived up to the hype. She's has clearly made a name for herself on the New York scene.
Camille Thurman - Vocalist
While most of us find it hard being good at one thing, Camille Thurman manages to be exceptional at three. As a vocalist she has won the prestigious Sarah Vaughn Vocal Award and is also an outstanding horn player on the sax and flute. A major artist in the making in all areas.
Carla Bley - Pianist
Composer and pianist Carla Bley doesn't get around much any more but when the 82 year old comes out to play its worth seeing. Bley is one of the most revered and respected members of the jazz community. She has a body of work that will last forever.
Caro Emerald - Vocalist
Caro Emerald may be the most famous jazz singer you have never heard of. She is a 40 year old Dutch singer that draws huge audiences in Europe keeping the sound of "swing" alive with lyrics that are light and fun. She has appeared in the US and always sells out. Definitely put her on your "get to know" list.
Catherine Russell - Vocalist
Among the best jazz vocalist on the scene today is Catherine Russell. Her 2016 CD, Harlem on My Mind, put her on radar of jazz fans. She turned to jazz in 2004 after she stopped touring with David Bowie. She will make your day brighter.
Cecile McLorin Salvant - Vocalist
Joining the ranks of jazz royalty is Cecile McLorin Salvant. She is clearly one of the best jazz vocalists to come along in a long time. She has already earned herself a seat at the table with the major female artists. She will be around for many years to come.
Charenee Wade - Vocalist
Every female jazz artist can’t be famous, but the good ones stand out. Charenee Wade is one of those. She began to get the attention she deserved in 2010. Since then she has won major awards and played in the best places with the best musicians. She keeps jazz on a solid footing and gives it the depth to continue to be an important part of American culture.
Claire Daly - Saxophone
Claire Daly has a new CD out that is a tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk that is clearly worth your listening time. What sets Daly apart from other female sax players is that most choose the tenor sax leaving the big-girls to play the baritone. Here's Daly and her big-girl group at a jazz festival in Jersey. Great stuff.
Dakota Staton - Vocalist
It's unclear why some great jazz vocalist die but their music lives on while others slip into obscurity. One of the top vocalist of the 50's and early 60's was Dakota Staton but you seldom hear her name anymore. That's too bad because she deserves to be remembered and her music played. See for yourself.
Diana Krall - Vocalist
Diane Krall has a new CD coming out in September 2020. It's called The Dream of You. Krall always reminds one of June Christy, the vocalist who dominated the West Coast jazz scene in the 40's and 50's with the Stan Kenton Band. If you like those great old jazz classics no one sings them better than Diane Krall.
Diane Schuur - Vocalist
One of my favorite artists for as long as I can remember is the vocalist, Diane Schuur. She can always bring a smile to your face. She makes every song sound special even the old standards you have heard a million times.
Dorothy Donegan - Pianist
If there was one instrument that women dominated in jazz it was the piano. Here is the great Dorothy Donegan. She never enjoyed the popularity of Marian McPartland and Mary Lou Williams but she was definitely in the same class.
Duchess - Group
The group is Dutchess. It's Amy Cervini, Hilary Garner and Melissa Stylianou. It's that big band sound from the 40's that the Pointer Sisters rose to fame on. It's your mother's music and its still good stuff. Join the Jazz Club it's free and it keeps you in the jazz loop.
Ego Ella May - Vocalist
Ego Ella May, is one of several young female vocalists from the U.K. who are redefining the contemporary jazz sound with a bow to Jill Scott, Andra Day and Billie Holiday. You will hear a lot more from this group.
Eliane Elias - Vocalist
The Brazilian vocalist, Eliane Elias, has a new CD, Dance of Time. She seldom sings in English but you still get the message. It's a cool, smooth sound with a Latin beat. Here she is in concert in English singing an old standard.
Ella Fitzgerald - Vocalist
A group of stellar artists including Patti Austin, Cassandra Wilson, Andra Day, Lizz Wright and Ledisi came together at the Apollo for a concert celebrating the 100th birthday of Ella Fitzgerald. Its now a CD called Ella 100 Live at the Apollo. Here's a look at the lady herself in a concert from the 60's.
Ella Fitzgerald - Vocalist
Verve Records has released a new Ella Fitzgerald album called, "The Lost Berlin Tapes." Ella's appearance in Berlin in 1960 was considered one of her finest musical moments. One reviewer said, "Fitzgerald was to singing what Yo-Yo Ma is to the cello. Here she sings her hit song of the time, her version of "Mack the Knife."
Etta Jones - Vocalist
Here is one of my all time favorites. The wonderful Etta Jones, often called 'little Sarah" singing her signature song, "Don't Go To Strangers".
Eva Cassidy - Vocalist
It's a Friday afternoon and what better song to play than, Stormy Monday. Here's a version by Eva Cassidy, a wonderful jazz and blues singer from D.C. who was always a pleasure to hear. Here she is at Blues Alley, the city's most enduring jazz club.
Francesca Prihasti - Pianist
Jazz in an international language and Indonesian pianist, Francesca Prihasti is living proof. Now living in New York she is a straight ahead jazz artist who can hold her own in any setting. Here she is with her quartet. She's a nice addition to the female jazz scene. She has three CD's worth your consideration.
Gayelynn McKinney - Drums
Here is Detroit's own Gayelynn McKinney with her band McKinney Zone. Best know as Aretha's drummer, she has been around for ages doing good work. It you like jazz with an R&B topping she's your girl. Always on her game.
Georgia Anne Muldrow - Vocalist
Georgia Anne Muldrow, aka, Jyoti, embraces all genres to create one of the best sounds of 2021. She is jazz when she needs to be and hip hop when it suits her. She is fresh and soon to be important to the music of this decade. Whew.
Geri Allen - Pianist
Here is Geri Allen on piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass and Teri Lyne Carrington on drums. What else is there to say. This speaks to how far women have come in jazz music when they need no introduction.
Hiromi Uehara - Pianist
The pianist Hiromi Uehara only uses her first name, Hiromi, but its enough for you to remember this extraordinary musician from Japan. She play the piano like it is a cardio-vascular exercise and she will get your heart racing too. Her playing as been described as "rumbling intensity and generous restraint."
Jane Ira Bloom - Saxophone
If there is one instrument that women musicians are calling their own its the sax. The younger players like Tia Fuller, Melissa Aldana and Lakecia Benjamin and getting all the buzz but let's not for forget the bar was set by the veteran, Jane Ira Bloom, on soprano sax. She recently was named the best of the year on the sax by Downbeat Magazine. She is a jazz treasure.
Jazzmeia Horn - Vocalist
Youth is not usually associated with jazz where most of the major artists have been around a long time. One of the best young vocalists on the scene is the talented Jazzmeia Horn who has on more than one occasion has been compared to Betty Carter.
Jessy J - Saxophone
As female musicians move away from the piano as the instrument of choice many are turning to the sax and finding
great success. While the music critics seem to favor Grace Kelly and Melissa Aldana who are absolutely a treat, I think the crowd favorite is the smooth jazz of Jessy J.
Joanna Connor - Vocalist
I have very mixed feelings about white Blues singers. I have a hard time taking them seriously. But like everything else in the world there are exceptions. Joanna Connor has been singing the blues forever and I always get a sense she knows what she's talking about. .
Karen Briggs - Violin
There are not a lot of women bands on the jazz scene but the quality of those that exist make up for the quantity. Among the most popular and enduring all female groups in Jazz in Pink, led by the exciting violinist Karen Briggs.
Keiko Matsui - Pianist
Keiko Matsui has been at the top of her game for years and shows no signs of letting up. She is one of the few women musicians who have achieved the status of "headliner." She is also the leader of the pack of a group of extraordinary Asian women pianists who are over the top.
Kokoroko - Band
It is seldom that you see a mixed band that is led by a female. More often females form same-sex bands because they feel excluded by male musicians. A wonderful exception is the U.K. afro-jazz band Kokoroko. The band is led by Sheila Maurice-Grey on trumpet with an all-female brass section of Richie Seviwright on Trombone and Cassie Konishi on sax. We have always assumed that the best female jazz artists are in the U.S. Well it simply isn’t so.
Kris Davis - Pianist
They say you can tell a musician has arrived by who they play with. If that's the case then pianist Kris Davis is clearly here to stay as she is appearing on the scene with the best female musicians in the buisness. A very avante-garde style not for the smooth jazz crowd but marking her mark.
Laura Jurd - Trumpet
She is not very well known in the U.S. but Laura Jurd is considered one of the premiere female trumpet players is the U.K. She works with her quartet called, Dinosaur. She is just one of many British artist worth our attention.
Lila Ike - Vocalist
Lila Ike, from Jamaica, is representative of a new breed of singer that is giving smooth jazz a new look. Smooth jazz lives on the sound of the sax, not vocals, but vocals as good as this will only strengthen this jazz genre which could use an update.
Linda Oh - Bass
It's hard for a female bass player not to find herself in the shadow of Esperanza Spalding, but that's not the case with Linda Oh whose star always shines bright. Here she is with another bright star, Melisa Aldana on sax.
Maria Grand - Saxophone
Maria Grand at 27 years old, has become a fixture on the NY jazz scene. The tenor saxophonist style has been called "leery and elusive," but this hasn't stopped her from attracting an audience that finds her sound new and innovative.
Maria Schneider - Band
The days of the jazz big band and memories of Basie and Ellington are behind us with few exceptions. One of those exceptions is conductor and composer, Marie Schneider, whose big band reigns supreme on today's jazz scene. Check her out and check out her new CD, "Data Words."
Mariel Bildsten - Group
When I think of women trombone players there are so few the one that usually comes to mind is the late great Melba Liston. However, I will now add Mariel Bildsten to my thoughts. She has a new CD called, Backbone. She's a New Yorker who makes the rounds as a side-woman with various bands. Here she is with her sextet. Keep her in your jazz thoughts.
Marlena Shaw - Vocalist
Back in 1975 one of the hottest albums of the year was called, Who is this Bitch Anyway, and introduced a new vocalist called Marlena Shaw. I was wondering whatever happened to her and I found this video that shows she still has the voice all these years later. Here she is singing a song from the original album.
Mary Halvorson - Guitar
Over the years I have listened to composer/guitarist Mary Halvorson and I have yet to understand what I am listening to. That aside she is considered one of the most progressive modern jazz artists of the day. Her music has been called anti-guitar and avant garde and any number of things that still don’t describe it. I thought I would let you give it a try and see what you think.
Mary Lou Williams - Pianist
There is a famous photo of 57 of the greatest jazz musicians in front of a Brownstone in Harlem taken in 1958. Only three are women. One of them is the pianist Mary Lou Williams. Her career spanned almost her entire lifetime and her jazz legacy will last forever. Here is is with Oscar Peterson in the 80's.
Melanie Charles - Vocalist
Melanie Charles in another of the sensational female artists that bring a Caribbean influence to her music. A vocalist and flutist she brings a versatile, fresh and hip sound to the music scene.
Morgana King - Vocalist
Stevie Wonder took “The Sunshine of My Life” and made it his song but before Stevie did it Morgana King killed it. White jazz singers get a bad rap but that certainly does not apply to this singer who was one of the few soprano voices in jazz. She had one big hit, the movie song, The Taste of Honey, but she is a keeper. No jazz collection is complete without Morgana King.
Mosaic Triad - Group
Here is a glimpse of female jazz royalty. The trumpeter, Ingrid Jensen, with Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Helen Sung and Tineke Postma. Jensen is the gold standard for women trumpet players.
Myra Melford - Pianist
The pianist, Myra Melford, who looked to Ornette Coleman for inspiration is a serious straight-ahead jazz musician. She's been around a long time and is revered by the critics and jazz insiders. She leads a quintet called, Snowy Egret. Her latest CD is called "The Other Side of Air." Here she makes a guest appearance in New York. She currently lives in Berkeley.
NERIJA - Band
One of the most exciting female jazz bands on the scene today comes from the UK in the form of the glorious NERIJA. Seven women from London with a new and fresh afro-based sound. Each group member has their own distinct identity but the one we are probably the most familiar with across the pond is the tenor sax player Nubya Garcia. This group is considered to be at the forefront of a major musical movement in London.
Nina Simone - Vocalist
Among the albums re-released last year was Nina Simone's Fodder on my Wings. It was overshadowed by a re-release of the Lost Berlin Tapes by Ella Fitzgerald but it is still worth a mention. Here's Nina doing the title song.
Noriko Ueda - Bass
Artemis, the recently formed all-female jazz group featuring the best of the best has Japanese born New Yorker, Noriko Ueda, on bass. Both a musician and a composer she does not get the play she deserves. Here she is as part of a trio at Dizzy's.
Nubya Garcia - Saxophone
You know you have arrived when you make the front page of the New York Times art section. Kudos to Nubya Garcia who for sometime has been the most prominent female jazz musician from the U.K. Now that recognition has spread to the U.S. Her new CD is call, "Source." She is also a member of the fabulous all female band Nerija.
Peggy Lee - Vocalist
Feels like old-school Monday. If the actress Mae West had been a jazz singer she would have been Peggy Lee. Always dressed like she was on her way to Vegas with a smooth and cool style that defined the word laid back. She was always a better jazz singer than she got credit for being.
Phyllis Hyman - Vocalist
Most artists die and over time their music becomes a fading memory. However, there are those whose musical footprint is so deep they will always seem current and relevant. On that short list of vocalists is the never-to-be-forgotten Phyllis Hyman.
Queen Latifah - Vocalist
As everyone knows you can't get rich singing jazz, that's why so few artists make it their first choice. So its nice to see an established singer drop back and make a jazz CD. Here's Queen Latifa stepping back from the money and using her really nice voice to sing jazz. From the CD Trav'lin Light.
Rachael Price - Vocalist
You don't have to be famous to be great. Rachel Price has been around a long time and she gets better with each passing moment. Diana Krall, who is a big star, immediately comes to mind since they are both white vocalists but this babe holds her own and maybe even more.
Rachelle Ferrell - Vocalist
Rachelle Ferrell is not what you would call a jazz superstar but with her 6 octave range she has a super fan base that hangs on to her every word. She has become a permanent fixture on the contemporary jazz scene.
Regina Carter - Violin
Some artists are so associated with a particular instrument that when you name the instrument they come to mind like trumpet equals Miles and sax equals Coltrane. When you hear the word violin you instantly think Regina Carter, recognized as the genius of the jazz violin.
Renee Rosnes - Pianist
Some musicians are like old friends, they are always around and they never fail to please. That can certainly be said for pianist Renee Rosnes who I first heard back in the 80's. She is still keeping the jazz flame alive and well and her music seems to get better as time passes.
Sarha Gure - Vocalist
Jazz is kept alive because there are young artists who bypass the lure of the big bucks to play a genre of music that has a very small percentage of the audience. Sarha Gure, a German born vocalist living in the U.K. is a prime example of that. She is getting a lot of play in London and is worth you knowing her name.
Satoko Fujii - Pianist
Pianist Satoko Fujii has been described as "an improviser of rumbling intensity and generous restraint." Sometimes she plays the piano like a drum or plucks the strings like a harp. She is among a small group of very innovative female Japanese pianists who bring their own unique sound to jazz.
Sharel Cassity - Saxophone
For years Sharel Cassity has appeared on all the rising stars lists in jazz. This talented horn player who easily moves from the sax to the clarinet to the flute deserves to be on any list of respected musicians.
Shirley Horn - Vocalist
Gone but certainly not forgotten. Here is the wonderful Shirley Horn, singer and pianist extraordinaire, singing the title song from her 1992 album, voted best of the year by jazz critics, Here's to Life.
Stacey Kent - Vocalist
Several years ago I was having dinner and heard this singer on the system and asked the waiter who she was. It was Stacey Kent. I've been a fan ever since. If you don't know her you should. She's always at the top of her game.
Stephanie Nilles - Pianist/Vocalist
Here is the pianist/vocalist Stephanie Nilles singing a very funny song about killing her boyfriend. She has a much more serious new CD called, I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag- The White Flag, named after a quote by Charlie Mingus. Once you meet her you will want to continue to stop by for a visit.
Susan Alcorn - Guitar
Susan Alcorn has a new CD called "Pedernal." You may not know her because she plays a pedal steel guitar and her music is what one reviewer called, "iconoclastic, ambientish." The same could be said of the music of Mary Halvorson who is on guitar. Here to a new experience.
Sylvie Courvoisier - Pianist
Jazz Times Magazine has a feature this week on the pianist Sylvie Courvoisier who is like an old friend that you don't think about a lot but is always a constant reliable presence. She is a staple in straight-ahead jazz and an important part of the music scene.
Tank Ball & The Bangas - Group
Whether or not they are a jazz group is certainly questionable. Their music is a bit of everything. What is for certain is that they are one of the most interesting music groups on the scene and their vocalists Tank Ball and Jelly Joseph may have the best jobs in the music business. If you don't know them rush to change that. They are Tank and the Bangas, a total delight.
Terri Lyne Carrington - Drums
For the first time ever the Downbeat Critics poll has awarded the jazz artists of the year 2020 award to a female musician. It's drumer, Terri Lyne Carrington. Downbeat editor, Bobby Reed, described her as a musician, producer, educator and amazing force in the jazz community. She also won album of the years and best jazz group. Here she is with her band Social Science.
The Diva Jazz Orchestra - Group
The Divas Jazz Orchestra has been around for 25 years keeping the big band sound alive and supporting a fine array of female musicians. There are a million things to say but their music speaks for itself. Here they are doing their version of "Caravan."
The Pearls - Group
It's not unusual for a wife, who is also a musician, to get lost in the light of her musical male husband. Lil Hardin, wife of Louis Armstrong, was a wonderful pianist and performer in her own right and those who knew her well credited her with much of his success. Here's a nice step back in time with an artist who many jazz fans have never heard of.
The Westerlies - Group
You don't have to be a die hard fan to find a group interesting and innovative and worth a listen. Meet the "Westerlies." All horns, 2 trombones and two trumpets, one played by Chloe Rowlands. This kind of group represents the best of jazz music which is to do what you want and be fine with that. Join the Jazz Club where we offer jazz fans things they might not see or hear. It's free.
Tierney Sutton and Ann Hampton Callaway - Vocalists
Sometimes you feel like talking to your old friends. It's the same with jazz when you listen to those vocalists you've heard a thousand times before and you get that warm comfortable feeling that everything is still good. Here are two "old friends" who never disappoint, Tierney Sutton and Ann Hampton Callaway.
Tomeka Reid - Cellist
Tomeka Reid is a composer and cellist who chose jazz, a genre that is unclear about its feeling for the cello. Reid, who formed her own trio in 2015 seems determine to bring the cello into the mainstream of jazz and is attracting the fan base to do just that.
Tomoko Omura - Violin
The violinist Tomoko Omura has a new CD called, Branches Vol. 1, where she musically interprets Japanese folk tales. Here she is doing something easier to follow, Midnight Sun, with her group called, The Post Bop Gypsies. She is totally cool.
Valaida Snow - Trumpet
Sometimes you die before you get the credit you deserve. That's the case of the great trumpet player, Valaida Snow, who died in obscurity in 1952. She was a big hit on the "chittlin" circuit and well known on the European jazz scene. She was jailed in Denmark during WW2 when the Nazi's invaded and when she returned to the US never hit her musical stride again.
Venissa Santi - Vocalist
If you don't know Venissa Santi, you should. She is one of the many Latinx women who rock the jazz scene. She is Cuban-American and perhaps not as well known as the Chilean vocalist, Claudia Acuna, but certainly is in that same class of singers who can make the day better.
Veronica Swift - Vocalist
If you were concerned that the great female vocalists of the past could never be replaced worry no more. Meet 25 year old Veronica Swift, she scats, she loves bebop and she is wonderful. She is a rising star you should add to your collection.