Here Come the Girls

Fran Hardcastle writes...

The jazz audience is changing and you heard it here first. Rob Mallows who runs the LondonJazz Meetup group has told us women members are 62% of the Meetup group.

In celebration of International Womens Day tomorrow, a few of the sixteen female writers who have written for LondonJazz since it started in January 2009 will be taking the site over.

So if you want jazz to remain a male preserve...look away now.


  1. I was at Café Oto on Staurday and the audience was about 50/50 women/men, which was refreshing, as the audience at jazz venues can tend to be a bit 'blokey' some of the time.


  2. Glad that you are making the statement. When Babel released the all female Vortex Foundation Big Band album in 2003, it was met by a response to the effect that the position of women in jazz is a 'non problem' and indifference.

  3. I look forward to the commentary and contributions from the sixteen Londonjazz female writers. Most of the gigs which feature vocalists that I attend have been at least a 60/40 split of female to male audience members. Have a look at the proliferation of jazz open mic sessions too - mainly run by and featuring female vocalists; many of whom make up the jazz audience.

  4. Thanks Helen. Jam session veteran Esther Bennett has taken a look at the jazz jam scene and focused on the experience of a young female guitarist tackling the scene. You can see her article tomorrow.

    I'm certainly enjoying the opportunity to celebrate women in the jazz scene.


  5. Talking of guitarists, you can also look to Mary Halvorson (recently seen with Ingrid Laubrock's Anti-House), who is doing some of the most intense and edgy guitar playing around and choosing players to work with to create really fresh and challenging musical propositions.


  6. Great topic, and quite near to my heart. While it's true that jazz has historically been a 'man's world': consider Mary Lou Williams, Lovie Austen and Melba Liston; all of whom significantly contributed to the evolution of jazz. When I was researching my project "Wild Women of Song:Great Gal Composers of the Jazz Era" I was frankly surprised to discover how many significant women composers were on the scene whose names I did not know. The women were there, just forgotten.
    Esmerelda Spaulding is a beautiful example of some of the fearless young musicians on the scene today...glad to hear the audiences are supporting them.

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  8. Looking at Babel, while perhaps the dominance has been with male musicians, I am pleased to have a good few where (in addition to Vortex Foundation Big Band) the female intrumentalists/singers have taken centre stage: Christine Tobin, Lleuwen Steffan, Julie Sassoon, Ingrid Laubrock, Paula Rae Gibson. And also Alcyona Mick (interviewed by Londonjazz of course) who will be on a Blink double album soon.
    Alcyona and Paul Clarvis are doing a small weekly residency on Wednesdays downstairs at the Vortex from 6 p.m. (Admission free!) Starting on 9 March.

  9. and ... Ingrid Laubrock's Anti-House (with Mary Halvorson) are on Jazz on 3 this week with their excellent Vortex concert. Good timing!


  10. Facebook tells me that of the 311 members of Jazz @ the North London Tavern's page, 64% are male and 32% female. Could do with more female members!

  11. What makes up the other 4% Jack? Animal, vegetable or mineral?!

  12. Strong pieces and the interviews are so lucid. Thank you!

  13. Charlotte Keeffe sent in this comment by email

    Hi there - I know it's no longer International Women's Day - but for me, talking about women in jazz in some ways, seems to be a reoccurring theme.

    What a great idea for the blog!

    I'm a student studying (jazz) trumpet at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama under the wonderful guidance of bass player and composer, Paula Gardiner. I am also part of the Women in Jazz Swansea group (now known as Jazz Heritage Wales,


    which is led by Jen Wilson, who is very hot on this topic indeed, please check out -


    Jen Wilson has told me about this horrible music critic called Spike Hughes, she explained how he referred to women in jazz looking like 'dogs’ when they were playing and how women should stay at home, blah, blah, blah... At the time (approx. 1950s -80s), Spike Hughes was a big, respected name in the media, consequently his views were valued (believe it or not), so I assume women in jazz were there, but certainly not in the limelight at all positively!?

    Nowadays, I am reading more and more about women in jazz, experimental music and contemporary music and enjoying listening to more and more music by fantastic female musicians – I am discovering new female (jazz) musicians on a regular basis!

    Sometimes, I'll be walking into a gig venue and people will ask me what songs I will be singing for them...they're quite surprised to discover I'm actually the trumpet player for the group and not the singer! Maybe there's something to be said about female brass players too?

    There’s no doubt I find this an interesting topic and I’m learning to develop my own clean opinions about it. I have to admit that I do a lot of gigs, rehearsing and talking about music with more males than females – when rehearsing with my group (CjmK group) - sometimes the boys turn up a little late, but they get on with the rehearsal - there’s no gossiping, no chatting, no worries about clothing etc, they’re there in the moment completely focused on the music! I’ve not had experience rehearsing with a lot of females, but when I have/do, it is GREAT fun, but perhaps the rehearsals have not been as productive at times?! This means nothing though, just my little experience and something I’ve noticed!

    I think the most important thing to be aware of, is it really DOESN’T matter what race, age, sexuality, religion, or gender a musician is – all that matters, is whether you like their music/way of playing their instrument or not!
    So here’s to EVERYONE in jazz!

    Many thanks now,
    Charlotte Keeffe.

  14. Rosie Hanley has asked us to re-post a previous comment...

    It's wonderful to see LondonJazz supporting women and International Women's Day. I hope the female takeover goes well!

    I am currently conducting some research into women in the jazz industry in conjunction with Jazz Services, The University of Southampton and the girls are.

    Follow me on Twitter @RoseanneHanley to keep up to date with the project, or email me: roseanne.hanley (at) gmail (dot) com if you would like to be involved!

    Happy IWD!