Madame Jazz: Contemporary Women Instrumentalists / Edition 1

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Overview


Nadine Jansen, a flugelhornist and pianist, remembers a night in the 1940s when a man came out of the audience as she was playing both instruments. "I hate to see a woman do that," he explained as he hit the end of her horn, nearly chipping her tooth. Half a century later, a big band named Diva made its debut in New York on March 30, 1993, with Melissa Slocum on bass, Sue Terry on alto sax, Lolly Bienenfeld on trombone, Sherrie Maricle on drums, and a host of other first rate instrumentalists. The band made such a good impression that it was immediately booked to play at Carnegie Hall the following year. For those who had yet to notice, Diva signaled the emergence of women musicians as a significant force in jazz.

Madame Jazz is a fascinating invitation to the inside world of women in jazz. Ranging primarily from the late 1970s to today's vanguard of performance jazz in New York City and on the West Coast, it chronicles a crucial time of transition as women make the leap from novelty acts regarded as second class citizens to sought-out professionals admired and hired for their consummate musicianship. Author Leslie Gourse surveys the scene in the jazz clubs, the concert halls, the festivals, and the recording studios from the musicians' point of view. She finds exciting progress on all fronts, but also lingering discrimination. The growing success of women instrumentalists has been a long time in coming, she writes. Long after women became accepted as writers and, to a lesser extent, as visual artists, women in music--classical, pop, or jazz--faced the nearly insuperable barrier of chauvinism and the still insidious force of tradition and habit that keeps most men performing with the musicians they have always worked with, other men.

Gourse provides dozens of captivating no-holds-barred interviews with both rising stars and seasoned veterans. Here are up-and-coming pianists Renee Rosnes and Rachel Z., trumpeter Rebecca Coupe Frank, saxophonist Virginia Mayhew, bassist Tracy Wormworth, and drummer Terri Lynne Carrington, and enduring legends Dorothy Donegan, Marian McParland and Shirley Horne. Here, as well, are conversations with three pioneering business women: agent and producer Helen Keane, manager Linda Goldstein, and festival and concert producer Cobi Narita. All of the women speak insightfully about their inspiration and their commitment to pursuing the music they love. They are also frank about the realities of life on the road, and the extra dues women musicians pay in a tough and competitive field where everybody pays dues. A separate chapter offers a closer look at women musicians and the continual stress confronting those who would combine love, marriage, and/or motherhood with a life in music.

Madame Jazz is about the history that women jazz instrumentalists are making now, as well as an inspiring preview of the even brighter days ahead. It concludes with Frankie Nemko's lively evaluation of the West Coast jazz scene, and appends the most comprehensive list ever assembled of women currently playing instruments professionally.

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Editorial Reviews

Donna Seaman
A jazz enthusiast, Gourse has written about Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughn (in "Sassy" [1992]) with great flair and now brings lots of energy and knowledge to this upbeat survey of contemporary women jazz musicians. Although male jazz musicians considered women jazz singers "ladylike," women blowing horns and pounding on drums were just plain unacceptable. That prejudice didn't stop women instrumentalists who, finally, in the early 1970s, began to have greater success in "crossing the gender barrier." Gourse assesses the changes in attitude that made that progress possible, but she focuses most of her attention on the women themselves, describing their drive, confidence, and talent. Women pianists were the first to win recognition, and Gourse profiles some standard-bearers, including Marian McPartland, Shirley Horn, and Joanne Brackeen. She also reports on conversations with a generous number of newcomers, capturing the essence of each musician's personality while sharing tales of their trials and triumphs. Gourse introduces women drummers, horn players, guitarists, and bassists and discusses all aspects of their careers, from role models and mentors to training and style of presentation. She even profiles key women in the music business, such as agent and producer Helen Keane.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195086966
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Leslie Gourse is a freelance writer whose books on jazz includeSassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan, Unforgettable: The Life and Mystique of Nat King Cole, and Louis's Children, an acclaimed history of jazz singing. In 1991, she received an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for a series of articles on women instrumentalists.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Diva 3
Ch. 1 A Status Report on the Contemporary Scene: Part One 7
Ch. 2 A Status Report: Part Two 13
Ch. 3 Remembrance of Things Passe: Jill McManus Recalls the Frustrations of the Jazz Sisters in the 1970s 24
Ch. 4 Several Successful Contemporary Young Women Musicians Talk About Their Inspiration and Commitment 33
Ch. 5 Pianists Renee Rosnes and Rachel Z, Rising to the Top in the 1990s, Ruminate About Their Worlds 43
Ch. 6 A View from the Business Women 48
Ch. 7 The Instrument Is the Image 66
Ch. 8 Kit McClure, Big-Band Leader: "You Did the Right Thing" 75
Ch. 9 Tracy Wormworth, Bassist: "Doors Just Opened" 87
Ch. 10 Emily Remler and the Guitarists 92
Ch. 11 Focusing on Trumpeter Rebecca Coupe Franks, Alto Saxophonists Virginia Mayhew, Carol Chaikin, and Sue Terry, French Horn Player Stephanie Fauber, Oboist Kathy Halvorson, and Saxophonists Laura Dreyer and Paula Atherton 99
Ch. 12 Trumpeters Laurie Frink and Stacy Rowles 106
Ch. 13 Flautists Elise Wood and Ali Ryerson 114
Ch. 14 Carol Sudhalter, A Role Model 117
Ch. 15 Jane Ira Bloom, Soprano Saxophonist and Experimentalist 124
Ch. 16 Terri Lyne Carrington 131
Ch. 17 Cindy Blackman and Sylvia Cuenca 136
Ch. 18 Percussionist Carol Steele 143
Ch. 19 Individualists 150
Ch. 20 Shirley Horn: "I Got Older and Bolder" 173
Ch. 21 Joanne Brackeen Lives and Plays Without Any Dos and Don'ts 178
Ch. 22 The Wily Miss Dorothy Donegan, Mistress of Fiery Medleys 183
Ch. 23 Marian McPartland: " . . . Something You Really Need in Life, Someone to Encourage You" 190
Ch. 24 A Few Words About Love, Marriage, and Motherhood 201
A View from the West Coast 208
Appendix: Women Instrumentalists Active in the 1980s and Early 1990s 211
Bibliography 265
Index 267
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