Home > Opinion > An Additional Thought Regarding the “Women in Jazz” Question

An Additional Thought Regarding the “Women in Jazz” Question

I. Something that hit me immediately after I hit the publish button on my last piece: how effective is it to continually ask female jazz musicians about their experience as a woman who plays jazz? 

When is it time to move beyond the standard questions: “How do you feel being a woman in the jazz scene?”  “What advice do you have for young women coming up in the jazz world?” Etc Etc Etc.  Because men certainly don’t get asked what it’s like to be a male musician.  Sure, it’s valuable to point out continuing problems for female jazz musicians.  But when are we gonna get past jazz journalism that’s based on sexual difference?  Eventually that’s not going to do anything.

II. Here’s some cool possible questions for female jazz musicians:

-Tell me about your project?

-What are your aesthetic philosophies, what are you trying to do?

-What are your immediate goals?

-Who would you like to work with?

-Etc

-Etc

-Etc

III. As a male jazz musician I’d like to say the following:

-Being a male player is pretty sweet.

-I’ve never been asked if I could sing (unless it was for “Chatanooga Choo Choo” or “Pensylvannia 6-5-0h oh oh”)

-My sexuality has never been question because I play baritone sax.

-My ability to play when I get called for a new gig has never been questioned by the other guys in the band when I show up.

-Etc

-Etc

-Etc

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Categories: Opinion
  1. Robin Jenkins
    November 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    You’re absolutely right. The questions you have listed to ask a woman musician (the same questions I presume you’d ask a man) would show her that you see more than her gender and are respectful of the time and effort and passion she has put into her musicianship. That is the highest compliment you can give a person.

    Back in the 70s I was first girl in my high school shop class and one of only five women in the entire School of Mines (except for department secretaries). Things have improved for women, but unfortunately one generation can’t get the entire job done. You’re on the right track here.

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