When I say ‘jazz’, who do you think of? Miles Davis, Duke Ellington or perhaps Dizzy Gillespie? And who would you name if I said ‘women in jazz’? Billie Holiday for sure. Probably Ella Fitzgerald. Oh, and what’s-her-name… Anita O’Day. I like them all, and they are without a doubt some of the biggest names in jazz. But what separates them from most of the jazz hall-of-famers, besides their genders? That’s right, they’re all singers.
It occurred to me one day that none of the women in jazz that I listened to played any instruments, or if they did it was over shadowed by their singing. So I started investigating female jazz players, and I found some amazing musicians. But the list is, unfortunately, quite short, and the women, not so famous. Most of them didn’t make many albums (no doubt because they were expected to give it up once they got married), and the few that are around aren’t celebrated nearly as much as their male counter parts.
So here is my list of my favourite female jazz musicians. Please listen to them and spread the word, so that the next time someone ask the name of a woman in jazz, the answer might be Toshiko Akioshi. Or Jutta Hipp. Or Beryl Booker.
“I have been insatiably curious about music for as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted to know what song that is, what kind of music came before it, who was inspired by it, and so on. So it was perhaps a natural step that I started collecting music, and eventually also started DJ-ing.
At home I listen to most kinds of music, but my main genre is jazz. When I DJ I have one rule: I play whatever makes me dance, and hope that that makes other people dance too. That means that most of the music I play is soul, funk, psychedelic and rock, since that is what makes me tap my toes. But I never put restrictions on what kind of music to play, which means that you shouldn’t be surprised if I all of a sudden play a disco song, or a 90ies hit. After all, good music is good music, no matter the label you put on it.”