Women in Jazz Background

There have always been women in jazz but they have not had the recognition and prominence they deserve. Of course there are the exceptions, mainly singers, who have become big names but many talented women are little known. Many people will have heard of the bigger names like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Dinah Washington for example but there are many like Dorothy Donegan, Terry Pollard and Melba Liston, who played piano, vibes and trombone at an equally good standard to men, are much less known.

And if you dig behind the headlines even the well known women players faced discrimination and difficulty - those who were black doubly so. Here we link to some history about women in jazz including a recent documentary The Girls in The Band. We will also be asking women players today for their thoughts on the scene.

Here's an interesting video on Terry Pollard - a brilliant pianist and vibes player. It's from the Terry Pollard Foundation which is dedicated to encouraging young girls and women into jazz. The first few minutes showcase young women in jazz in 2015 when the video was made.

And here are some interesting links to the National Public Radio website about women in jazz history in the USA:

Women in Jazz 1

Women in Jazz 2

And a link to a pdf of a chapter in an Italian boon co-written with Catherine Parsonage, (now Catherine Tackley) by Kathy Dyson on Women in Jazz in the UK which includes some current players.  Kathy says on her website: "We focused on a brief historical outline of British women jazzers and interviews with contemporary players. A future project could be to write a longer history, because there is so much of interest from a social, cultural and musical perspective and a lot of unpublished material."