Madame Jazz Contemporary Women Instrumentalists
Madame Jazz Contemporary Women Instrumentalists...
New York Oxford OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 1995
Jazz: Contemporary Women Instrumentalists Leslie Gourse
Oxford University Press Oxford New York Athens Auckland Bangkok Bombay Calcutta Cape Town Dar es Salaam Delhi Florence Hong Kong Istanbul Karachi Kuala Lumpur Madras Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Nairobi Paris Singapore Taipei Tokyo Toronto and associated companies in Berlin Ibadan
Copyright © 1995 by Leslie Gourse First published in 1995 by Oxford University Press, Inc., 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016 First issued as an Oxford University Press paperback, 1996 Oxford is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Oxford University Press. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Gourse, Leslie. Madame Jazz : contemporary instruments / Leslie Gourse. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-19-508696-1 ISBN 0-19-510647-4 (Pbk.) 1. Women jazz musicians—United States. 2. Jazz—United States—History and criticism. I. Title. ML82.G69 1995 781.65'082—dc20 93-40360 Fulman's review (Chapter Three) © New York Daily News. Used with permission. Jeske's review (Chapter Twenty) from the New York Post. Used with permission. Palmer's review (Chapter Three) Copyright © by The New York Times Company, reprinted by pemission, for "Women Who Make Jazz," by Robert Palmer, Jan. 21, 1977, and "Women Prove They A/e Equal To Men In Jazz," by Robert Palmer.
Drawings on pages ii and iii by Samuel Gourse.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed in the United States of America
For all the people who contributed to this book and for Dr. Edward Holtzman, trumpeter Johnny Parker, and photographer Ray Ross
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Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, one of the most successful young instrumentalists in jazz and pop, noticed a striking change in the status of women instrumentalists between the end of the 1980s and the early 1990s. By 1994, she had lost count of the new players. "There are a lot more women playing and coming into their own. It's no longer a matter of women being fashionable or a fad. It's really serious. When a woman says she plays, you have to listen and find out now," Terri said. Drummer Dottie Dodgion, who began her career in the 1950s, was playing on the West Coast in the late 1980s and early 1990s, hired by male musicians whom she had known for a long time. Even so, she was certain that the attitude of male chauvinism against women instrumentalists "would go on forever." These views are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Dottie was speaking from long experience. Prejudice against women jazz instrumentalists had sometimes frozen her out of high-profile jobs. In the 1990s, women were still experiencing incidences of traditional discrimination, though it usually manifested itself in far more subtle ways than when Dottie had begun playing. The burden of guaranteed, relentless, and depressing frustration had lifted from women's shoulders. Quite a few lucky women could even say they had rarely encountered overt discrimination. The National Endowment for the Arts gave awards to women. Many were building careers successfully, using the door-todoor method for advancement. That is, if they were turned away at one door, they were welcomed at the next. They looked for jobs in places where men didn't always go. And there were deepening, widening pockets of real support—male musicians who could be counted on to call women to play and rarely give gender a second thought. Women found out there were no longer any immutable rules. All they had to do to succeed was count indisputably among the best and the brightest players, the most persistent job seekers, and the most agreeable people. Naturally, they had to be lucky too, and catch the attention of the right people. And if the