#Womensday: LondonJazz: An Introduction to the Theme of Today's International Women's Day Celebration

Fran Hardcastle


Fran Hardcastle introduces the theme of today's special International Women's Day celebration:

International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women on a global scale. Over the past few years it has moved from being a reminder of the negatives and a celebration of the positives, whilst still providing a platform for the discussion and debate of women’s issues and gender equality.

Catherine and I are proud to have been invited to take over LondonJazz News.com for IWD. I have been a friend of the site for many years and have thought Sebastian to be a fair and supportive editor, supportive of the music, of musicians and eager to provide an equal open platform for both writers and artists.

The subject of Women in Jazz is often a controversial one. In current debate in the US is trumpeter and tutor at UC Berkeley, Ellen Seeling’s planned protest about the perceived gender imbalance in Wynton Marsalis’ publicly funded Jazz at the Lincoln Centre Orchestra.

Whilst JLCO has had female deps or extras participate in tours or performances, in the 36 years since it was established, there has never been a full time female musician as a salaried member of the band. Is this coincidence or subconsciously by design? Circumstances such as these are never black and white. Jazz ensembles the world over tend not to audition, musicians are selected by reputation and recommendation, usually through other band members. Are there no women playing that are of JLCO calibre? The world knows that there are. But do they want to join the band? Have they been available when opportunities have arisen? JLCO is by no means isolated in its gender imbalance. Orchestre National du Jazz first introduced a female vocalist in the early 90s. It was as late as 2009 that the first female instrumentalist joined the band. Perhaps IWD is a good opportunity to raise questions as to how we improve the gender balance in the jazz community.

As easy as it would be to focus on the negatives, there is much to be proud of.

This year, we hope we have commissioned articles that celebrate the achievements of the many women of the jazz community, at every level, both in the UK and abroad. There is an entertaining podcast chronicling the work of the women of Blow the Fuse. Globally renowned pianist, Amina Figarova took time out of her busy touring schedule to tell us about the women who inspire her. Andrea Vicari tells us about what’s going on in the world of jazz education. Tori Freestone previews her début album and talks about the business of improvisation. We discuss the interesting pairing of jazz and poetry in articles interviews with Jahene Markham and Jumoké Fashola. Behind the music, Amy Pearce, Associate Director at Serious and driving force behind the UK jazz scene talks about feminism, and the hopeful future of women in jazz. And we go full circle and interview bassist Ruth Goller, who submitted one of our most well read and meaningful articles in the last IWD takeover of LondonJazzNews.com


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