Women in jazz

Mary Miller, Reporter

Lively music filled the halls at the CWU McIntyre building last Saturday during the all-day Women in Jazz event. Workshops, discussion panels and improv sessions provided women an unbiased environment to hone their music skills in the jazz genre.

CWU’s Jazz Education Network (JEN) club conducted the event “to address the absence of female representation in the jazz idiom and to inspire girls and women to continue to pursue playing jazz throughout their educational journeys and beyond,” said the invitation on the Women in Jazz day website.   

According to the Journal of Research in Music Education, 14% of female music students and 50% of male music students play jazz in college.

In the professional sector, a fact survey in 2022 revealed that the percentage of female jazz musicians has risen from 9.2% in 2012 to 26.9% in 2020-2021.

Many legendary jazz female vocalists have made their mark: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and more recently Esperanza Spalding. 

But saxophonist Issie Barratt estimated that only 5% of instrumentalists in jazz are women.

“One of two or three women in a group of 20 or 30 men, it’s very minimizing,” CWU’s Lady Cats member Amy Boedigheimer said. “It’s a really unique experience to have a whole day where you get to be surrounded by people who are like you and do the same thing you do and to be supported by those people.”

At the event, workshops featured accomplished female jazz musicians such as Arietta Ward and Chloe Rowlands. Arietta demonstrated improv by singing her jazz rendition of “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.” Chloe Rowlands showed the audience how to “connect your ear to your instrument,” playing several riffs on her trumpet.

Other artists conducted workshops and master classes in vocal, improv and jazz band instrument techniques.

A panel hosted by CWU alumni Hannah Mowry discussed the gender disparity in jazz and what can be done to change it.

The day concluded with a performance by CWU’s Lady Cats, an all-female jazz band who played classics such as Route 66, Georgia on My Mind, and Years From Now, a tune written by pianist Becky Griswold.