Maria Schneider

Laura Barnett wrote a feature in yesterday’s Guardian about women in jazz. Thank you Oliver for pointing it out to me on the phone. Good piece.

The whole thoughtful article is here . It’s like an extended solo. It has moments which catch your attention. And the most memorable were two quotes from inspirational American composer/bandleader/one of the greats Maria Schneider.
The first quote is about the amount of hard graft and “time in your own head” required to become a jazz musician, and the final words of the article: “With women, maybe it’s like this. If you’re mediocre, you might have a tough time. If you’re really good, nobody can deny it.”
Well, my first reaction to Schneider’s very clear thoughts is to quote funnyman Tommy Cooper:
‘Doctor, I can’t pronounce my F’s, T’s and H’s.’
‘Well you can’t say fairer than that then.’

Not quite true. That’s not all I have to say. The UK/London angle?

Laura Barnett does cover it. She’s interviewed Deirdre Cartwright and Trish Clowes who are both very thoughtful on this subject.

But my question is: Who do I think of- who do most jazz musicians see as the female musicians in London who are “really good and nobody can deny it,” which might prompt me to recommend a gig or two.

Others will have other names. The first names I think of are …..

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Nikki Iles. Definitely. Any gigs coming up? Apart from tonight when she’ll be at the Pizza in Dean Street with singer Tessa Souter, the London diary is quiet for a few weeks. But I will be looking out.

Kate Williams is from a musical family not to say dynasty. She also has that level of musicianship….as Maria Schneider says “nobody can deny it.”

Same story. Out of town for a bit. There will be great gigs from both and I will want to catch them. But for now it’s over to the CD collection.
Kate’s latest CD The Embrace
Here’s a good clip from it , but for my favourite track you’ll have to buy one.

Track 6. Places Not Forgotten.

Essential listening. A slow track. A composition which generously leaves huge air and space for the improviser. Gareth Lockrane on flute. Very eloquent. Sweet tone. You get to the end of the track…. and you find that Kate has let the other players find that all room in her composition ….but chosen not to take a solo on it herself.

The track is complete. But you also know from that gesture, that absence, that there are so many more possibilities in that tune. And that’s a great feeling.

Any more names?

Categories: miscellaneous

2 replies »

  1. What an interesting blog. I got a google alert cos you mentioned Nikki Iles playing with me at Pizza Express last weekend. And, yes, Nikki is extraordinary — an amazing musician and super sensitive and lyrical and just fantastic to play with in every way.

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