A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Sunday, February 8, 2015


                                (Photo by Sibila Savage)

Hey, jazz girls!
Tired of being one of the only girls in your band?
Tired of the boys hogging all the solos?
Thinking about joining a jazz group, but feeling shy?
Have I got an event for you! And it's free!
It's the fourth annual JazzGirls Day at Berkeley High, featuring a Who's Who of local female jazz musicians, including trumpeter Ellen Seeling, director of the Montclair Women's Big Band; saxophonist/drummer Jean Fineberg, the band's co-director; and trombonist Sara Cline, director of Berkeley High's award-winning student jazz program.
"We'll play some tunes, have a jam session, break up into groups by instrument and talk about our experiences as women and girls in the jazz world," says Cline. "Bring all your friends, even if they don’t play jazz yet!"
JazzGirls Day will be held on Saturday, March 7. (They usually hold it on March 8, International Women's Day, but that falls on a Sunday this year.) Space is limited, so I advise registering as soon as possible at bhsjazz.org/jazzgirls-day/
This event has become a bigger hit every year since it was founded, inspiring similar events - also free - in Seattle, New York and San Francisco.
The San Francisco event will be held on Saturday, March 28, at SFJAZZ Center's Joe Henderson Lab, 201 Franklin Street (at Fell). Once again, space is limited, so register ASAP at sfjazz.org/jazzgirlsday/
But wait! There's more! If one day sounds like fun, how about a whole week?
The same people behind JazzGirls Day are also offering a weeklong jazz and blues camp for women from March 23-27 at the JazzSchool in Berkeley, a short walk from both Berkeley High and the downtown Berkeley BART station.
The sessions include a blues & soul band, Latin ensemble, roots music choir, percussion, theory and improvisation, and two new additions this year: a Beatles choir and a New Orleans ensemble, as well as individual one-on-one consultations.
But for my money, the highlight of each day is the lunchtime jam session in the JazzSchool courtyard, where students and teachers play together.
Finally, on Friday, the campers will perform a free public concert in which they invariably amaze themselves by how far they've come so quickly.
"I learned more in one week than I did in two years!" an attendee at last year's camp told me.
This one will cost money - $475, although some financial aid is available – and a week out of your life, so I'm letting you know early so you can plan your vacation time accordingly.
For more information visit cjc.edu/womenscamp or call 510-758-2200. To register, visit cjc.edu/womens reg or call 510-845-5573.
There will also be a jazz & blues camp for girls this summer, but there isn't enough space to tell you about it now. I'll let you know more as the time approaches.
And it would take a dozen columns to express my admiration for Seeling, Fineberg, Cline and all their friends. Like too much of our society, jazz has been a man's world that's awfully hard for women to crack.
But these women – great musicians all - are empowering other women and girls to play the music that I consider America's greatest cultural contribution to the world.

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