Hey, all you jazz girls out there!
Tired of being one of the only girls in your band?
Wondering where all the other girls are?
Want an alternative to the boy-dominated jazz world?
Thinking about joining a jazz group, but you're feeling shy or discouraged by the lack of other women?
Then get yourself over to Berkeley High School next Saturday, March 9, for the second annual JazzGirls Day. You'll rub shoulders with (and be taught by) a Who's Who of professional jazz musicians, including pianist Susan Muscarella, founder and executive director of the JazzSchool, vocalist Pamela Rose, trombonist Sarah Cline, and trumpeter Ellen Seeling and saxophonist/drummer Jean Fineberg, founders of the Montclair Women's Big Band.
"We'll play some tunes, have a jam session, break into groups by instrument, and talk about our experiences as women and girls in the jazz world," says Cline, who directs the award-winning Berkeley High jazz program.
This event is for girls only, age 10 and older, who sing or play an instrument. And it's ABSOLUTELY FREE!
I wrote about the first JazzGirls Day last year, and I got more feedback from the girls who attended (and their parents) than I've ever received from any other story I've written. Their reviews ranged from favorable to ecstatic.
"My daughter learned more about music in that one day than she had in all the rest of her life," said one mom. "But she learned even more about herself. It was tremendously empowering."
"The best part was finding out that she wasn't alone," said another. "To be exposed to that many women and girls playing jazz was a real eye-opener."
It grieves me to say it, but jazz has been a bastion of male chauvinism from the very start. Unless you're a vocalist, it's almost impossible for women to be get jobs in bands or booking in clubs, despite ample evidence, from Mary Lou Williams to Esperanza Spaulding, that women can play jazz just as well as men.
When Cline herself was a student at Berkeley High, playing in the same jazz ensemble she now directs, there was only one other girl in the program. This year, there are still only three girls in the ensemble, so there's still a long way to go.
That's why JazzGirls Day is so important: To say to girls, "Yes, you can."
The event will be held in Room A201 at Berkeley High from 1 to 4 p.m., followed by a screening only a few steps away at the high school's Little Theater of "The Girls In The Band," a new film about women and jazz. Admission is free, and so is the popcorn.
Not coincidentally, next Friday is International Women's Day. To celebrate, the JazzSchool (only a short block from the high school) is offering three special concerts next weekend: the Tammy L. Hall Chamber Ensemble Friday night, a concert and discussion of John Coltrane’s music and spirituality Saturday night, and Grammy-nominated violinist and composer India Cooke Sunday afternoon. Every girl who attends JazzGirls Day will get a 20 percent discount on admission for each concert.
Please let them know if you'll be joining them by e-mailing BerkeleyHighJazz@gmail.com. Above all, have fun!
"And bring all your friends," says Cline, "even if they don't play jazz yet."